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China starts freight train to London as Xi boosts trade ties

[HONG KONG] China started a freight train to London as part of President Xi Jinping's efforts to strengthen trade ties with Europe, Xinhua reported, citing state-owned China Railway Corp.

The train, departing from Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province, will cover more than 12,000km in about 18 days before reaching the British city, carrying goods such as garments, bags and suitcases among other items, Xinhua said on Monday. The freighter will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France.

London is the 15th city in Europe to be added to China's freight train services to the continent as Mr Xi seeks to reinforce commercial links with markets across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In 2013, Mr Xi unveiled his so-called Belt-and-Road initiative, making transport lines the centerpiece of his efforts to create a modern Silk Road.

China has initially set aside about US$40 billion in a fund to finance roads and railways abroad under the plan, while the nation's trade with countries along the routes could reach US$2.5 trillion in about a decade, Yao Gang, the then vice chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission, said in 2015.

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