HEFEI, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) --The Yangtze River, which has nourished the Chinese nation for thousands of years, is ready to play a more important role in China's opening up in the years to come.
Three years ago when Laura Mombelli was sent by an Italian company to Maanshan, an eastern Chinese city on the bank of the Yangtze, she had no friends and found it hard to find a cup of authentic espresso.
Thanks to the development of the Yangtze River economic belt, Maanshan has transformed from a city relying on steel and mining to an important port boasting strengthened communication with the world.
Besides improving the infrastructure for a road-rail-water combined transport network, the city has newly created a bonded area to open up wider.
"Now I have my own friends, since more and more foreigners are working and studying here," Mombelli said. The Brescia-based Metallurgica Bresciana S.P.A, which she works for, is moving its China headquarters from Shanghai to Maanshan and is considering shifting part of the production capacity in Italy to a Maanshan-based subsidiary.
During the annual provincial legislative sessions, more efforts have been promised to further open up the Yangtze River economic belt, which passes through 11 provincial regions.
The government work report of Anhui Province, in which Maanshan is located, vowed to build an open economic system featuring higher-quality development, and form new systems to liberalize and facilitate trade.
According to the government work report of Chongqing Municipality, the city has finished the upgrading of facilities at the Guoyuan bonded logistics center last year, so that the 16-berth port is better connected to the railway in the city.
Guoyuan is the largest port on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, and is a key point connecting the Yangtze River economic belt and the Belt and Road regions. On Dec. 28, 2017, the port saw a train head for Germany, marking the beginning of the China-Europe freight train service of the port.
Previously, freight from the China-Europe trains in Chongqing had to be transported by trucks before reaching the Yangtze ports.
The southwestern city says it will launch 1,000 China-Europe trains in 2018 and explore new rules for cross-border road and sea-rail transport.
Chongqing has also vowed to play a leading role among inland areas in opening up and build itself into an international logistics hub and a major port city.
Central China's Hubei Province, at the middle reaches of the Yangtze, has also said it will promote the development of China-Europe freight trains, upgrade transport and promote construction of the Hubei free trade zone.
Shanghai, located on the estuary of the Yangtze, plans to build a free trade port to facilitate trade and investment, relying on the existing facilities such as Yangshan Deep Water Port and Pudong International Airport.
The annual trade volume of the Shanghai port accounts for 3.2 percent of the world's total, and the container throughput has ranked first in the world for eight consecutive years.
The report for the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China promised that "China will not close its door to the world, but will only become more and more open."
It emphasized the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative, and said China looked to open further "through links running eastward and westward, across land and over sea."
"The Yangtze River economic belt is an important bond connecting the Belt and Road Initiative," said Yi Xiaoguang, head of Chongqing comprehensive economic research institute.