China-Belarus freight service shifts to rail
The first train from Xiamen, in the Fujian province in southeastern China, to Minsk, in Belarus, left on Sunday 20 November. With 16 days of transit time over 10,540 kilometres, this new service is expected to be roughly 25 days shorter than the previous sea-road modality.
Before this service, in fact, goods from Xiamen to Belarus were sent via ship to Poland and then via road to Minsk. The first convoy was made up of 50 containers loaded with 3 million euros worth of goods. The cargo included stationery products, shoes, leisure goods, and kitchenware, according to the Telegram channel of the Community of Railway Workers of Belarus (Belzhd_live).
As the channel claims, Chinese customs statistics show that trade between China and Belarus increased by 27,9 per cent over the first ten months of this year. Belzhd_live also pointed out that there is some interest in sending trains from Belarus to China loaded with mostly agricultural products. In the video below, you can watch the train departure from Xiamen.
Other China-Belarus rail freight services
The Xiamen-Minsk train is not the first train connecting China with Belarus. Services connecting Minsk with the Hunan region, in south-central China, have been in function for a few years now. The first regular freight train linking Changsha and the Belarussian capital officially entered service on 18 January 2017 as part of the Hunan-Europe Express Line.
Another route, always part of the Hunan-Europe Express Line, was launched in 2019 between Zhuzhou and Minsk, making it the first service from Zhuzhou to Europe. Belarus is an important railway hub on the New Silk Road, since the vast majority of Chinese trains to Europe are passing via this country.