Photo taken on Jan. 8, 2020 shows Bryde's whales in waters off Weizhou Island in Beibu Gulf, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Xie Weiliang)
NANNING, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- As the most convenient access route to the sea for western China, Beibu Gulf Port has been among the country's leading ports in terms of cargo throughput growth rate since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The port in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, not only plays an important role in the latest round of large-scale development of China's western region, but also injects impetus into the country's new round of opening up.
Its cargo throughput rose 21.68 percent year on year to 181.67 million tonnes in the first three quarters of 2020, and its container throughput topped 3.51 million 20-foot equivalent units in the period, up 34.93 percent year on year, according to Beibu Gulf Port Group.
"The accelerated construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor brings vitality to Beibu Gulf Port," said Wei Tao, chairman of the group.
The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor is a trade and logistics passage jointly built by western Chinese provincial regions and ASEAN countries.
The port currently has a total of 268 productive berths. A total of 52 shipping routes link the port with 237 ports across the world, including major ASEAN ports.
As an important transit location on the corridor and the closest seaport for inland Chinese provinces, the port saw a total of 3,174 train journeys on its land-sea freight route in the first three quarters of the year, surpassing last year's total. The busy, exhilarating scenes have continued in October, as shipping vessels took up berths at the port area one after another.
"As of September, our company had received over 10 percent more shipping orders compared with the same period last year," said Wei Renguo, general manager of the Nanning subsidiary of SITC Container Lines Co., Ltd.
According to Wei, SITC is a shipping logistics company in the intra-Asia area, and its business in Beibu Gulf Port has been largely unaffected this year. The company even opened a new route to ASEAN countries when the epidemic situation was still severe.
"With the construction of the international gateway port here in Beibu Gulf, the proportion of our business in ASEAN routes has been increasing," Wei added.
In recent years, Beibu Gulf Port Group has expanded its investment in Malaysia's Kuantan Port and Brunei's Muara Port and has also promoted negotiations with other ASEAN countries on port development and construction cooperation.
The bonds between Brunei and China have been getting stronger since the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation to promote the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor in 2014, said Dato Seri Setia Dr. Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, Brunei's minister at the Prime Minister's Office and second minister of finance and economy.
The expansion of the project is currently underway, further deepening the cooperation between ports in Brunei and Guangxi, Dato Dr. Amin said, noting that both sides are committed to providing more trade facilitation services by using advanced port facilities.
In September 2019, Beibu Gulf Port and Yangon Port of Myanmar signed an agreement to establish a sister port relationship, providing favorable conditions for Myanmar to strengthen cooperation with ports in the pan-Beibu Gulf region and participate in the construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.
U Kyaw Myo, Myanmar's deputy minister of transport and communications, said practical results have been achieved in port cooperation between Myanmar and China, which not only enhance the comprehensive strength of Myanmar's ports but also benefit the livelihood of local people.
The National Development and Reform Commission released a master plan last August on building an international comprehensive transportation hub and an international gateway port in Beibu Gulf.
Guangxi has been promoting the construction of transportation infrastructure in recent years, with the international gateway port in Beibu Gulf taking shape.
"Beibu Gulf Port Group is planning to invest about 32 billion yuan (about 4.8 billion U.S. dollars) in building a professional, large-scale and intelligent port, and make it a world-class automated container terminal," Wei said.