Duisport. Photo: Amelie Erxleben

New Silk Road is focus of major international forum in Duisburg

Germany’s key rail freight hub of Duisburg, a vital conduit of trade routes between western Europe and the Far East, is tomorrow (November 8) starting an international forum focusing on the New Silk Road. Logistics and trade experts from 23 countries will be discussing what has become a critical commerce project, with its implications for Sino-European cooperation.

The New Silk Road has been etching a modern network of overland and maritime trade routes across the international landscape. Since 2014 one section of the rail route, connecting Chongqing in central China with the city of Duisburg, has been steadily building a host of commercial opportunities. One such recent diverse example has been the ‘Deutschland 8’ art project, which saw a container train transport art works by dozens of German artists to China, where they were the centrepiece of a unique exhibition.

Commercial opportunities

Being run over two days, the forum is organised by the Conficius Institute and the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, together with their two Chinese partners, and it is expected around 100 people will attend what is the third such event taking place.

The event is also strengthening links between Duisburg and China, which were formally recognised in Chinese Premier Xi Jinping’s state visit to the Port of Duisburg in 2014 to discuss the then fledgling One Belt, One Road initiative. As Europe’s largest inland port, Duisburg now operates some 400 rail freight connections, and was one of Europe’s pioneering destinations in receiving rail services from China. Around 25 container trains run every week between Duisburg and China.

Deutschland 8 project

A notable recent development was the port’s role in the German-Chinese ‘Deutschland 8 – Deutsche Kunst in China’ (German Art in China) project. A container train containing art works left Duisburg for the 12,000 km journey to Beijing. ‘Deutschland 8’ is jointly organised by the Bonner Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V. and the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts. More than 300 art works by 55 German artists were exhibited in eight locations in Beijing. It follows a similar project, ‘China 8’, when Chinese artists exhibited their works in eight cities in the Ruhr region two years ago.

Erich Staake, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Duisburg, said: “In its role as an important trading connection, the New Silk Road initiative also intensifies the cultural transfer between people in China and Germany. Therefore we are participating in this outstanding exhibition as a sponsor, and are pleased to provide our logistics competence in the service of this important art project.”

Key figures

Panellists will include key figures from the politics and business sectors, including Dr Djoomart Otorbaeve, former Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan; Johannes Pflug, China Representative for the City of Duisburg; and Guanzhe Cao, Project Manager Asia Duisburger Hafen AG (Port of Duisburg). The event will be introduced by Dr Herbert Jakoby, Head of Economic Policy at the NRW Ministry of Economic Affairs; and Haiyan Feng, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Düsseldorf.

Held in English, the takes place at the Intercity Hotel Duisburg. For more information visit www.cec-duisburg.org or call +49 (0)203 306 3131.

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for RailFreight.com - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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