Ancient port plans to surf new trading wave
When Kong Lingming started looking for a job late last year, the then-student found that opportunities were easy to come by.
As early as January, the 22-year-old had found a job and signed an employment contract with a company in Quanzhou, Fujian province - nearly six months before he graduated from Wuhan University of Technology, where he majored in marine navigation.
According to Kong, all 27 students in his class have found jobs since they graduated last month. Five of them, including Kong, have signed contracts with CQC Crew Manning Co, a subsidiary of China Quanzhou Co.
"We all believe that Quanzhou, as an ancient port city along the Maritime Silk Road, will see rapid development in the coming years as a result of the Belt and Road Initiative," he said.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is an umbrella term for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network that will connect China with the rest of the world along the path of the ancient Silk Road.
Quanzhou, formerly called Zaitun, was one of the starting points of the ancient Maritime Silk Road. The earliest records of friendly contacts between the city and countries in Southeast Asia date from the Southern Dynasty (420-589) during the sixth century.
According to data released this month by the local customs authority, trade between Quanzhou and four of the BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa - reached 8.82 billion yuan ($1.32 billion) in the first half of the year, a rise of almost 65 percent from the same period last year.
South Africa was Quanzhou's largest trading partner among BRICS countries, with a volume worth 3.94 billion yuan, a rise of more than 60 percent from the first six months of last year.
Trade with both Russia and Brazil exceeded 1.9 billion yuan, with growth rates reaching 109 percent and 97 percent respectively.
Granite blocks, soybeans, petroleum and crude oil accounted for the majority of the goods imported by companies in Quanzhou, while most of the goods the city exported consisted of bags, suitcases, footwear and clothing.
In January last year, the city government issued an action plan to revive the ancient seaport by boosting investment and trade, connecting with overseas Chinese, promoting intelligent manufacturing and building a modern coastal city.
According to the plan, the cargo-handling capacity of Quanzhou Port will rise to 150 million metric tons in 2020, from 104 million in 2015.
The city will also open new maritime and air routes with countries along the route of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.