Customers select imported goods carried by Zhengzhou-Europe International Block Train in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, Aug. 18, 2016. (Xinhua/Zhu Xiang)
The trading partnership between China and German city of Hamburg can be traced back to the 18th century. After years of development, the Port of Hamburg is now one of the most important European hubs for trade with China.
In 2018, the Port of Hamburg had a total seafreight volume of approximate 8.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), of which some 2.6 million are related to China, according to the statistics released by the port.
"In the last hundreds of years, the trading volume has been always on the growing path. Nowadays, around a third of total cargo here is bound for China or originates there," said Du Xiaohui, Chinese Consul General in Hamburg.
About half of Sino-German trade run through the Port of Hamburg, Du told Xinhua in a recent interview. And more than 550 Chinese companies have settled in the northern German city, and the number is still rising.
Located along the riverside in the city center, the Port of Hamburg Marketing is striving to strengthen the partnership of both sides after witnessing the existing trade prosperity.
"China is for us the biggest market, but not only these days, this is historical," Axel Mattern, joint chief executive officer of Port of Hamburg Marketing, told Xinhua. "Hamburg is a classical import and export destination or hub for China."
Mattern travels very often to China because he believes that a close contact should be established there. "We have a good position, because we have this long-lasting relationship," he said. "That is something that we have to keep for us."
"We have to identify mutual projects and to combine good ideas together, especially surrounding the Belt and Road Initiative," said Mattern, who hopes to develop the good relationship even further.
Hamburg is the central freight handling hub for transport along both the maritime and overland Silk Road, Mattern said.
"We shall be further strengthening and expanding our location in terms of transport geography for the benefit of our worldwide port customers," he said. "Hamburg is well positioned and prepared to be part of the initiative."
Mattern's remarks were echoed by Lars Anke, head of sales projects at Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA), a leading European logistics company with a history of more than 130 years.
Anke told Xinhua that China has been one of the most important partners of Port of Hamburg and HHLA.
"There are very close cooperation relations between Hamburg and China. Therefore, both sides have great potential to strengthen win-win cooperation, especially under the Belt and Road Initiative," he said.
As the operator for the Port of Hamburg, HHLA owns a mature network both by rail and by sea, which can help boost trade between China and Europe, according to Anke.
Hamburg, as a leading logistics hub, enjoys a dense network of around 2,000 container train connections, excellent autobahn infrastructure, a host of possibilities for transport by truck and inland waterway craft, as well as an airport with an air freight center.
"All parties, including local government in Hamburg, have showed their willingness to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative," said Consul General Du, who has already held six symposiums on the topic.
"With its port's outstanding rail infrastructure, Hamburg naturally forms part of China's Belt and Road Initiative," said Du, adding that the port closely connects the Hanseatic city to the Asian country.
Looking forward, the senior diplomat said that the cooperation between China and Hamburg has a solid foundation, on which both sides can expect new opportunities for cooperation on the new platform.
"Hamburg and Port of Hamburg face new chances to promote the comprehensive cooperation relations and trade prosperity between Hamburg and China, between Germany and China," Du added.