ChinaUS EUROPEASIA 中文双语Français

Farmer rides on Silk Road economic boom

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-02-04 11:27

GUANGZHOU -- When Liu Zhaojun, a farmer-turned businessman, was told about a brick-maker in Uzbekistan looking for investors almost four years ago, he knew "absolutely nothing" about the country.

"I didn't know where it was or how far it was from China," said Liu. "I could not even pronounce its name properly."

In 2013, Liu was selling building materials in Pingxiang county, about 10 kilometers from his countryside hometown in Hebei province. He did not know that the Belt and Road would involve farmers like him. But he decided to try his luck anyway.

Towards the end of 2013, he made his first visit to Uzbekistan along with some business partners and saw immense potential. He invested in Keramik, a 28-million-yuan (about $4 million) brick-making plant covering 20 hectares in the suburbs of Tashkent the following year.

The plant, which began production in May 2016, turns out 100,000 bricks every day. Producing bricks locally has cut costs for Uzbek building companies and created more than 30 jobs.

Liu flies between his home province of Hebei and Tashkent four or five times a year, attending to businesses on both sides.

For three years, China has been Uzbekistan's second largest trade partner and the No 1 investor. According to China's Ministry of Commerce, China's non-financial direct foreign investment in Uzbekistan totaled $510 million by the end of April 2016.

"In recent years, freight train routes have linked different parts of China with central Asia and Europe," said Liu. These trains have cut transportation time and improved efficiency.

Until last summer, he had to arrange land transport to Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan province, where the freight was loaded onto trains that traveled through northwest China to Tashkent. "The trip took about 20 days. But before freight trains, shipping time was at least 40 days."

In July last year, a new freight route linked Tashkent with Xingtai, a city in Hebei province, and cut the shipping time to eight days. "It's a direct link between my home and the brick plant in Tashkent and saves time and money."

Encouraged by the fast service, Liu and his partners plan to open a second production line at the brick plant and by the end of this year, daily brick output will triple to 300,000.

Four years after he tested the waters in Uzbekistan, Liu has benefited a great deal from the Belt and Road. "It's hard to imagine a poor man like me, who had trouble making ends meet 10 years ago, is now doing business overseas."

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349