Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub: A Key “Base Station” for the New Platform of International Cooperation on the “Belt and Road Initiative”
The basic construction of Initial projects of the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub including SCODA Exhibition Hall, SCO Exhibition Area for Specialties, Culture and Tourism, SCO Exchange and Service Center, the office space for SCO Business Association, SCO Legal and Intellectual Valley, etc. have all been completed. These projects would manage to introduce 100 enterprises to settle in here and to hold 15 events including forums, achieving import and export trade volume of USD 5 million within this year.
In the exhibition hall newly built in the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub, two large-size maps are displayed: one includes the whole world, depicting the location of Qingdao as a node on the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road using lines across the three continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa; the other focuses on Jiaozhou Bay, presenting the future prospect of the overall development of the SCO Demonstration Area based on the layout of “One Axis and One Belt, Six Sections, and Four Interconnections”. As an important “base station” that drives Qingdao to create a new platform for international cooperation of “The Belt and Road Initiative”, such “Cooperation Hub” treats “Thinking in Front of the Globe” as the first and foremost rule for its planning, construction, and operation in the first place.
At present, the basic construction of Initial projects of the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub including SCODA Exhibition Hall, SCO Exhibition Area for Specialties, Culture and Tourism, SCO Interaction and Exchange Center, the office space for SCO Business Association, SCO Legal and Intellectual Valley, etc. have all been completed, and are undergoing improvement and upgrades. “Although no official opening ceremony has been held yet, a lot of functions have now been put into service ahead of schedule.” says Wang Haibo, a staff member of the Management Committee of the SCO Demonstration Area, who is responsible for the construction of the International Cooperation Hub for SCO Countries. He also introduces that this “Cooperation Hub” with approximately 30,000 square meters of total floor area provides such functions as information distribution, display and exhibition, commodity transaction, roadshows and introduction, interactions and exchanges, conference and office space, integrated service, etc.
At the SCO Exhibition Area for Specialties, Culture and Tourism on the 1st floor of the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub, this exhibition space with 950 square meters of floor area is full of exotic charms, with the colorful oiled paper umbrellas suspended on the ceiling, a dazzling assortment of import commodities, and the landmark and landscape paintings depicting the SCO countries. Benjamin, a merchant from Moldova, was assorting his goods in front of a sailboat-shaped shelf. Representing the Suvorov-Vin Group, a wine producer from Moldova, in China, Benjamin has already registered the Qingdao Loghiny International Import and Export Co., Ltd., which was one of the first batch of companies that have settled in the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub. “We tried to enter the Chinese market ten years ago, but our product positioning could not be accepted by most Chinese consumers at that time. Last year, knowing that Qingdao was building the SCO Demonstration Area and the demands of Chinese consumers have undergone fundamental changes, we immediately realized that it was time to come back to China.”
During the interview, Benjamin more than once mentioned his company’s “confidence” in its China business. “Businesses differ sharply by country in terms of behavior and mentality. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you start a business on a strange land. Here, however, we’ve never encountered those issues that we thought we were supposed to have.” According to Benjamin, it took him 3 hours only at the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub to obtain a business license. Quite a few of his colleagues from outside China hadn’t managed to come back to China due to the global outbreak of COVID-19. As a result, he had been running the business alone in China for a continuous period of two months. “In most cases, upon first entering China, a foreign business would need to hire agents as well as staff for taxation, accounting, legal work, etc. These services, however, are all readily available at the “Cooperation Hub”. So I had nothing to worry about even when I was working solo.”
Until now, Qingdao Loghiny International Import and Export Co., Ltd. has already imported 200,000 bottles of wine from Moldova in total. Many wine businesses have encountered poor sales because of the impact imposed by the pandemic on catering services in other countries; Qingdao Loghiny, however, has been experiencing surging demands, which is one of the sources of his confidence. He specifically introduced to the correspondent the special zone in the Cooperation Hub – the Livestream room themed by “The SCO Superior Products, A Silk Road for Cloud Shopping”. Certain Chinese buzzwords such as “Internet Celebrity”, “Livestreaming”, and “Sell Product” are just at Benjamin’s fingertips. "China boasts a well-developed express delivery industry; the traditional way of selling by agents is no longer the best sales model. The staff of the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub has helped us launch live streaming, through which we also hope to connect with consumers directly, expanding our sales.”
Benjamin is not the only one who’s full of confidence. On the 3rd floor of the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub, Genghis, a trader from Kazakhstan, is talking with Ji Xuan, the Project Manager of the Eurasian Trading Port, about the direction of the business in the next step. “I have worked at the Alma-Ata office of China Railway Engineering Corporation for a fairly long period of time. The establishment of the SCO Demonstration Area has aroused my enthusiasm to start up a business in China. Now my dream has come into reality.” says Genghis, who’s in charge of Qingdao Bowman International Economic and Technological Cooperation Co., Ltd. with a registered capital of USD 100 million. This company mainly engages in the import trade of gemstones, nonferrous metals, mineral products, lumber, etc. from the Belt and Road countries. “People said there was nothing but mudflat here, but what I see now is a land for business startups with the convenience of transportation. How fast this place evolves has amazed me, and I believe my company will have much more to accomplish here.”
Unlike any other “Cooperation Hub” across the city, the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub is not oriented to any specific country or domain, but all SCO countries, and even the Belt and Road countries at large. To provide targeted services based on industrial and cultural features of different countries, the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub has established the SCO Exchange and Service Center that offers services by country and provides a platform for visits, meetings, discussions, and exchanges for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and for the government authorities, companies, non-governmental organizations, and social communities from the Belt and Road countries. Seven exhibition and exchange zones are allocated within this area in proper order including Russia Hall, Kazakhstan Hall, Kyrgyzstan Hall, Tajikistan Hall, Uzbekistan Hall, Pakistan Hall, and India Hall, all of which have been exquisitely decorated according to the cultural and regional characteristics of the specific countries.
Seen from a deeper level, the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub is a platform for the accelerated circulation, exchange, and coupling of resources such as capital, technology, talents, trade, etc. on a global scale. Having converging the valuable resources from multiple countries, the “Cooperation Hub” would find it easier to and should fully give play to the platform effect that deepens the linkage and creates a network. To promote interconnections and interactions of resources in the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub, it has already incubated 9 projects by working with business associations and platforms including India Chilli Import and Export Association, the Eurasian trading port (IECA), the Russian Export Center, the Pakistan Economic Cooperation Center, the wholesale trade project of agricultural and sideline products from Kazakhstan, and Russia’s alliance of woodwork distribution firms, involving countries such as India, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, etc. “The main reason for us to settle in the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub is to rapidly expand the bilateral investment and the trade volume between China and Pakistan, and to promote business travel and cultural exchanges between the two nations. Meanwhile, the fine locality of Qingdao will help Pakistan expand its communications with other SCO countries, and facilitates our deep cooperation with Japan and Korea.” The Pakistan Economic Cooperation Center on the 19th floor has finished its decoration for just two months. According to Wang Zihai, Deputy Director of the Center, until now, in terms of the international exhibition project, they have successfully facilitated the move-in of Everest International Expo Pvt. Ltd, a platform enterprise based in Pakistan in the SCO Demonstration Area. “In the future, we will help more Pakistani companies establish their procurement headquarters in the SCO Demonstration Area; according to our planning, we are confident that at least 10 enterprises could be introduced here within one year despite the pandemic.”
As for the vision of the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub, according to Wang Haibo, construction of a variety of functional platforms will be speeded up in the next step, including the Technology Transfer Center for the SCO Member States, the SCO Talent Exchange Center, the SCO Financial Security Center, the SCO Youth Startup Incubation Base, the SCO Energy Center, etc. Efforts for attracting investment and business will be strengthened, and supporting facilities will be improved and upgraded, expanding the scope of business attraction in an all-around way. It aims to attract 20 business associations and 100 enterprises to settle in within the year, hold 15 events including forums, conferences, roadshows, and exhibitions, and collect a total investment of 3 billion yuan, giving rise to a large-scale, integrated platform for the collection, development, exchange, and output of resources for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Source: Qingdao Daily