Visitors look at a drone displayed at a high-tech expo held recently in Zhengzhou, Henan province.
Among the recently launched seven new free trade zones, Henan FTZ differs from the others in that it will be built into a national transport and logistics hub.
Starting in March, four pairs of cargo trains started running on a weekly service between Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, and the German city of Hamburg.
Since the first Zhengzhou-Europe Train was launched in 2013, the train has finished 556 one-way trips by the middle of March, with total value of delivered cargo amounting to .82 billion, according to Zhengzhou's bureau of commerce.
It is expected that over 300 Zhengzhou-Europe trains will complete the 10,214-kilometer trip in 2017 alone.
“The transit time is cut to nearly 12 days, compared with 35 days in the past by ship,” said Helmut Vollmers, managing director of EMONS Multitransport Gmbh.
EMONS is a German company which has been working with Zhengzhou International Hub Development and Construction Co Ltd, a State-owned enterprise, since 2016.
Vollmers said the advantage for his delivery company in Germany was that goods such as auto parts and clothes－coming to Henan province from other cities across China－were sent to Hamburg, where his company dispatched them across Europe.
“Henan FTZ, as the first one featured by transportation and logistics in China, undertakes the mission to build a modern multimodal traffic and logistics network linking up the north and south and connecting the east and west, as well as a modern comprehensive transportation hub serving the Belt and Road Initiative”, said Shu Qing, vice-governor of Henan.
The Belt and Road Initiative, which was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.
Annual international trade between Henan and the Belt and Road economies amounted to 80.18 billion yuan (.60 billion) in 2016, according to the provincial government's department of commerce.
In addition to railway transportation, “Henan province also has 29 international air freight lines, which delivered 450,000 metric tons of cargo in 2016”, said Shu.
The lines will be increased to 40 by 2020, or the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), said Zhang Qiong, director of Henan province's department of transport.
As the capital of China's most populous province, “Zhengzhou has become the most successful city among its peers in developing air freight, cross-border e-commerce and the China-Europe Block Train”, said Zhang Dawei, vice-chairman and secretary-general of the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchange.