11 months ago
Yiwu is an anomaly, at least in the sense that the city’s about as non-Chinese as a place in China can get.
As Fortune notes, it has a regular influx of foreign traders from far off countries of the Middle East and Africa, and has come to be referred in the foreign press as “Sock City” or “The Town Where Christmas Lasts All Year Round.”
It’s also recently become a major hub on Chinese president Xi Jinping’s “New Silk Road” initiative by welcoming the first-ever train from London to China, the East Wind last month. (The train made the opposite journey back in January.)
Of the 7,500-mile journey, Fortune noted:
“The train included 33 cars carrying 88 freight containers. The cargo: vitamins, baby formula and Scotch whisky. East Wind departed from Stanford-le-Hope, Essex just outside London, traversed the English Channel by tunnel to France, then wound its way through Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan before crossing back into the Middle Kingdom.”
It’s another golden spike in the rail system China’s Xi sees as an interconnected superhighway between China and the rest of the Eastern world. It’s something the leader calls the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. And it’s been in the works since 2013.
Now, on May 14-15, world leaders from 30 nations are meeting in Beijing to discuss the initiative, which some analysts see as China’s version of the Marshall Plan.
Below, watch Al Jazeera’s report from back in January on the East Wind’s first journey from China to the U.K.