(Repeats story from Friday with no changes)
By Brenda Goh
BEIJING, March 10 China's regional governments
are falling over each other to curry favour with President Xi
Jinping, jostling for roles in his New Silk Road plan to boost
economic and cultural links through Asia to Europe.
One says it wants to send its young people to be Silk Road
"super connectors", while a second is pitching to become a new
home for foreign consulates. Another wants to build a folk
museum to commemorate Beijing's overseas push.
The plan, officially the 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR)
project, has so far seen billions of dollars pledged overseas to
countries such as Pakistan and Kazakhstan, in a drive to develop
trade and build infrastructure along land and sea routes between
the two continents.
At home, it is stoking a frenzy of one-upmanship among
provinces keen to catch Xi's eye and find new drivers for growth
in their patch as the economy slows.
While official plans published in 2015 only list 18
provinces as areas key to the plan, over 30 of China's
territories now say they have an OBOR strategy.
At the annual meeting of China's rubber-stamp parliament in
Beijing this week, delegates from all attending provinces
trumpeted their support for the initiative during meetings.
"Our party secretary, mayor, vice-mayor have all visited One
Belt One Road countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, even
parts of the Russian Federation like Tatarstan," Tang Limin,
secretary-general of central Sichuan province, told Reuters
after addressing delegates at a meeting.
It didn't matter that the government didn't identify Sichuan
as key to the plan two years ago, Tang said.
"We have a lot of cooperation projects that come under One
Belt One Road," he said.
Aligning such projects with Xi's vision has been aided by
the loose definition of OBOR. Beijing has provided some
guidelines of where it wants the initiative to focus, such as
heavy infrastructure investment, but has left much of it open to
Cultural exchanges with other countries, the formation of
the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank, and overseas
acquisitions by Chinese firms have all been described by local
media as part of the OBOR project.
Delegates to the parliament have embraced that kind of
"We have people who can be 'super-connectors and super
partners'," said Chan Yung, the Hong Kong deputy to the National
People's Congress, when asked how the autonomously governed city
plans to contribute to the initiative.
"Hong Kong's youth are very open ... As long as they're
willing to fork out 1-3 years to travel the One Belt One Road
routes and stay in a country for 1-2 years, they can become
Bai Hongzhan, a delegate from Henan in central China,
proposed that the provincial capital Zhengzhou should be
developed into a key node on the route where foreign consulates
could be persuaded to set up a base.
The province of Shaanxi, home to China's historic Terracotta
Army, is weighing up a proposal for a Silk Road Chinese Folk
Culture corridor, with folk museums, memorial halls and gardens
to pay tribute to the initiative, documents show.
Plans for how to participate in "One Belt, One Road" have
not just been drafted by the provincial government, but
companies and other entities.
In the coastal province of Jiangsu, the fervour is not
restricted to the provincial authority but reaches down to lower
tiers of government and corporate China, said Yan Lijuan, a
delegate from the province and top executive at XCMG
"One Belt, One Road is extremely important to every city in
Jiangsu, every company and industry."
(Additional Reporting by Muyu Xu and SHANGHAI Newsroom; Editing
by Will Waterman)