Nanning, the capital city of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the southwestern corner of China, in the border with Vietnam, hopes to become an economic hub and play an important role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Located in the southern part of the country, Guangxi is bordered by Yunnan to the west, Guizhou to the north, Hunan to the northeast, and Guangdong to the east and southeast. It is also bordered by Vietnam in the southwest and the Gulf of Tonkin in the south.
Guangxi’s geographic location has placed it on the frontier of Chinese civilization throughout much of China’s history.
The region’s primary agricultural crops are rice, maize, and sweet potato, as well as cash crops like sugar cane and tobacco. Guangxi is also one of China’s key production centres for nonferrous metals and holds approximately a third of China’s tin and manganese deposits.
The capital city of Nanning is also called the Green City, due to an abundance of lush tropical foliage. Nanning, with a population of more than 7.5 million (out of Guangxi’s 55 million people) is at the forefront of China’s economic push into Asean, given its geographic position.
The city is also famous for its Nanning Rail Transit (NNRT), expected to comprise a total of nine lines. The first was completed and put into operation in June 2016, while lines 2, 3 and 4 are now under construction. Line 1 connects the East and West of Nanning, linking the financial and political centre with the academic and research centre of the city.
Nanning is well known to Cambodians as a result of the annual China-Asean Expo, in which Cambodia was the country of honour this year.
Over the years, the city has become an important gateway to trade between China and Asean, playing an important role in trade cooperation, communication and negotiations between governments and companies in China and Asean countries, through a mechanism called the Nanning Channel.
Nanning city officials, during a briefing and an audiovisual show showcasing Guangxi and Nanning’s development, stressed that Nanning is now at a critical point, speeding up development and overcoming numerous challenges.
“Externally, the strategic partnership between China and Asean has entered the ‘Diamond Decade’ from the earlier ‘Golden Decade’. The city has the opportunity to expand open cooperation and raise the influence of the Nanning Channel.
“Internally, the new positioning for Guangxi is construction of the international channel that reaches out to Asean, thus becoming a new pillar for opening up the Southwest and Middle-South of China, as well as an important gateway linking the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt in which Nanning will play an integral part,” one of the officials said.
As this is the first year of a five-year plan, Nanning now hopes to establish the first cross-border free trade area in the China-Beibu Gulf Free Trade Pilot Zone, as well as a China-Asean information harbor.