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Love and trade across the Silk Road

Updated: 2015-09-28 12:10
By Jiang Wei (chinadaily.com.cn)

Anita Jumekenova never thought she would marry a Chinese guy when she came to China to study Chinese in 2006. Yuan Chaohui never thought he would do business in Kazakhstan when he chose E-commerce as his major in 2001. But one day, they met in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, which is also the starting point of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Love and trade across the Silk Road

Yuan Chaohui and Anita Jumekenova. (Photo provided to China Daily)

Anita comes from Karaganda, the second largest city in Kazakhstan. At the age of 18, she came to Xi'an to take a language course, simply wanting to know more about China because China's language and culture was popular in Kazakhstan. After finishing the course, she decided to study further. She got a bachelor's degree in Chinese at Xi'an Jiaotong University and a master's degree in Northwest University.

Born in Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Yuan Chaohui is a half ethnic Mongolian. He paid close attention to e-commerce development after he entered college. His first start-up company after graduation was a purchasing agency between China and Kazakhstan. The idea struck him after he helped Anita send Chinese products to her friends back home.

At first, Anita's relatives and friends asked them for Chinese products. Later more and more people came to them. So they set up a purchasing agency on a social website. Customers can submit their shopping list on the website, give the down payment to Anita's sister in Kazakhstan and pay the remaining money after they receive the products. Yuan said that Anita's sister was the living Alipay (China's leading third-party online payment service of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd) back then.

To better serve their customers, Yuan and Anita set up a Chinese products exhibition store in Karaganda. Local people can shop online and in the store. Their shopping agency website was visited by 6,000 people at the peak period.

Yuan always wants to build a bridge between China and Kazakhstan after their relationship grew. The purchasing website was a good attempt, but logistics was a big problem. At that time, they delivered goods via the postal service, but it was slow and expensive. Their business was constrained.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the strategy of building the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road", known as the Belt and Road Initiative for short. The central and local governments began to introduce preferential policies and measures to carry out the initiative.

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