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China eyes export fillip in modern Silk Road

[BEIJING] China should make use of its plans to build a modern Silk Road to drive its exports of rail, energy, construction and telecommunication equipment, the country's cabinet said on Wednesday.

Formally known as the "One Belt, One Road" project, the new Silk Road scheme should adopt flexible investment and construction policies to lift overseas demand and employment and drive China's equipment exports, the State Council said.

China's financial sector should also be developed to drive exports, the cabinet said in an online statement after a weekly meeting. A yuan payments system will be built, regulations for overseas investment simplified, and more uses found for China's US$3.7 trillion foreign exchange reserves.

The new Silk Road project aims to build an array of infrastructure links across Central, West and South Asia to as far as Greece, Russia and Oman, increasing China's connections to Europe and Africa.

President Xi Jinping said in March that he hoped China's annual trade with the countries along the modern Silk Road would surpass $2.5 trillion in about a decade.

Back home, red-tape will be cut for at least 200 business proceedings that require governmental approval, the cabinet said.

And to increase the privatisation of Chinese healthcare, residents who buy private health insurance will get tax rebates for premium payments of less than 2,400 yuan (S$514).