A file photo of Yangpu Free Trade Port Zone in Hainan province. [Photo/VCG]

China is developing a new land-sea corridor in its western region in a bid to speed the opening-up and high-quality development of the region and deepen international economic and trade cooperation, the country’s top economic planner announced on Thursday.

The development plan, unveiled by the National Development and Reform Commission on its website, aims to build an economical, efficient, convenient, green and safe land-sea corridor for the western region. By 2035, the new land-sea corridor will be fully completed, with better transportation capacity and world-class customs clearance and logistics services, officials said.

The new land-sea corridor will extend primarily from Chengdu in Sichuan province and Chongqing to a group of Beibu Gulf ports in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Yangpu Port in Hainan province. It also will better connect China’s inland northwestern region to major ports in the south.

The new route includes a network of railways, roads and air connections, with Chongqing and Chengdu serving as two key logistics hubs.

Experts said the plan will help give full play to the unique regional advantages of the western areas and create new strategic anchors for their opening-up and development. It also will form a key corridor connecting the Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

Chen Liuqin, founder and director-general of Beijing-based Qin Dian Think Tank, said building a new land-sea corridor is of great significance. It will be mutually reinforcing with other national strategic plans and form multifield, multilevel and multichannel bilateral ties with economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

“The corridor will deepen the connection between the northwestern areas and the southwestern region. Its multimodal transportation will help shorten transportation times and reduce costs, fostering a promising future for economic and trade development,” Chen said. “From a long-term perspective, the new corridor will connect different strategic regions in the nation and closely link the vast western inland regions to the vibrant Southeast Asia market. The route will significantly boost connectivity between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and further promote the two sides’ economic and trade cooperation.”

Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said, “The new route will help boost both domestic and international trade.”

“Compared with the traditional route via the North China region, the new route offers a new path to further connect the northwestern region with ASEAN countries, allowing the inland region to benefit from the development of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. Under the plan, goods from ASEAN countries will be able to be transported to the Central Asia market via the route, which will bring new development opportunities for the northwestern China region,” Mei added.

Also, in May, Chongqing and eight provinces and autonomous regions in western China-Guangxi, Guizhou, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Ningxia and Shaanxi-signed an agreement to build the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. That corridor is being jointly built by the western Chinese provincial areas and ASEAN countries under the framework of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, which the two sides signed in 2015.