The Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe train arrived on time at the Port of Duisburg, the biggest river port in the world, on March 28, after travelling 11,000 kilometers, cutting the sea route time by 20 days.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Duisburg to meet the train, accompanied by Germany’s Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), Vice Chancellor and Minister of Economy and Energy; Hannelore Kraft (SPD), Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Mayor Soren Link (SPD) of Duisburg.
In his remarks, President Xi emphasized the importance of Germany and China, which lie at each end of the railroad, as the driving engines for economic growth in Europe and Asia. This transcontinental line is, of course, extremely important for Germany’s industrial Ruhr area, which has suffered greatly from deindustrialization for a number of years.
Given the importance of the location for future relations, President Xi announced that China will open a consulate in the state capital of Düsseldorf so that North Rhine-Westphalia can participate in the building of the Silk Road economic belt.
N.R.W. Minister President Kraft proudly announced that China and N.R.W. have enjoyed a close relationship, with more than 800 Chinese companies having settled there and over 1,000 companies from her state having invested in China.
According to Düsseldorf Mayor Dirk Elbers, there are now more than 8,200 German companies in China and over 2,000 Chinese companies with branches in Germany, and, “Within a radius of 500 kilometers, one has access to 50% of the purchasing power of Europe.”
Recently, China’s Huawei company moved its Western European operations headquarters from London to Düsseldorf, because, as Huawei Germany manager Toni Cheng put it, “Germany is exactly in the center of Europe, while England is more on the edge.” The China-based producer of home appliances and electronics, Hisense, has also established its European headquarters in Düsseldorf.