Regional opening is an inevitable choice for a region to adapt to the trend of reform and opening up and achieve rapid economic development, as well as an objective requirement for the region to participate in the industrial division of labor and build high-end industries. It is also an effective way for less developed regions to seek transformation and upgrading and leapfrog development. The location of Northwest China in the inland is one of the main factors restricting its opening to the outside world. The proposal and implementation of the "Belt and Road Initiative" have brought valuable development opportunities for Northwest China to open westward and "go global."
Accelerate the construction of a trade platform for westward opening. In recent years, Northwest China and countries along the "Belt and Road" have carried out trade cooperation and exchange in increasingly broader areas, with larger scale and higher level of economic and trade exchanges. However, trade barriers, poor customs clearance, transportation inconvenience, slow logistics and other problems still exist. To speed up the construction of a trade platform for westward opening, it is necessary to accelerate the study of smooth trade, investment facilitation and other problems, explore, solve and bolster "weak spots" of trade opening, eliminate trade barriers, and reduce trade and investment costs, thus achieving mutual benefits and win-win results. Accelerate the improvement of customs clearance facilities at ports, speed up the "window" construction of border ports, enhance customs clearance capabilities, reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers, and improve trade facilitation. Speed up the construction of ports, and improve planning and layout of airport and land ports. Accelerate the cultivation of integrated service enterprises and intermediaries of foreign trade. Strengthen the ties between development zones and Central Asian, West Asian, Central and Eastern European countries, promote westward opening, and build the development zones into important bases for the westward movement of businesses, westward shift of industries, and westward export of products. Support the development zones in setting up special customs supervision areas, and attract large enterprises, large projects and large industries to the development zones. For example, Gansu, Xinjiang and other provinces (autonomous regions) can establish halal food production bases by relying on Horgos Port and Kashgar export channel, thereby continuously enhancing the level of opening up of the development zones.
Accelerate the construction of a transportation platform for westward opening. Advance the transportation infrastructure strategy, exert its bridging role, and create a smooth, reliable, efficient, fast and convenient transportation system for all the countries, regions, people and goods along the Silk Road Economic Belt. Speed up the improvement of the traffic conditions that adapt to the transnational trade transportation system, reduce transportation costs of users, shorten the transportation time from the place of departure to the destination, improve the accuracy of travel time, and enhance the transportation safety. To achieve the above goals, it is necessary to make effective use of existing transportation resources, build new transnational transportation infrastructure that meets the needs of creating a new open system, strengthen the sharing and analysis of transportation information among provinces, within a province and within a region, and formulate incentive strategies and cooperative strategies necessary for realizing road connectivity.
Accelerate the construction of a cultural platform for westward opening. The deep foundation of people-to-people lies in the mutual understanding, mutual exchange and mutual integration of different cultures. Only based on the understanding, exchange and integration can people from different countries and regions have ideological resonance and reach a valuable consensus on some major issues. Thus, Northwest China should further strengthen exchange and cooperation with the countries along the "Belt and Road" in the fields of education, culture, tourism and health, expand the areas for cultural cooperation, and strengthen the public opinion basis and social basis to deepen cooperation through non-governmental exchange and cooperation. Promote and push multi-regional and multi-country friendly exchanges through international cooperation, economic cooperation, ethnic interaction and cultural exchange inside and outside the region. Further develop and improve the friendly relationships with relevant provinces and states of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Belarus, Russia and other countries, and continue to establish friendly provinces and states in the countries along the "Belt and Road."
Accelerate the construction of an investment platform for westward opening. Led by relevant government departments, Northwestern provinces (autonomous regions) can establish high-level government consultation schemes with westward opening industrial cooperation regions and industrial parks. On the one hand, two sides have regular meetings and consultations concerning annual culture, tourism and visit plans, cooperation in key industries, and construction of overseas industrial parks. On the other hand, carry out industrial cooperation, build overseas industrial parks, provide coordination services regarding access, management, and dispute mediation for enterprises to "go global," and guarantee risk control and maintenance of rights and interests for enterprises to "go global" and for domestic and foreign industrial cooperation.
Accelerate the construction of a training platform for westward opening. Expand the scale of education and training of foreign students. Strive for national training program support, to attract more students from the countries along the "Belt and Road" to study in Gansu. Seek national support to provide scholarships and subsidies, thereby attracting students from Central Asian and Western Asian countries to study in Northwestern provinces (autonomous regions) and expanding the size of foreign students. Build the Research Center for Education of Foreign Students from Central Asian and West Asian Countries, the Research Center for Arabic Education and other bases and cultural education platforms by relying on colleges and universities in Northwest China. Highlight the characteristics and advantages of Gansu Dunhuang studies, the Ancient Silk Road and Central Asian and West Asian studies; integrate the strengths of colleges and research institutions; establish comprehensive research bases; strengthen cooperation with colleges and scientific research institutions in the countries along the "Belt and Road"; deepen international seminars and academic exchanges; enhance the status in the Silk Road and Central Asian and West Asian studies. Organize colleges and universities to carry out academic exchanges and cooperation and hold education exhibitions in the countries along the Silk Road. Accelerate the cultivation of talents required for cooperation and exchange in the process of building the "Silk Road Economic Belt"; increase and highlight trainings in lesser-known languages, as well as national and regional conditions, macro policies, ethnic religions, laws and regulations, investment finance, medicine and health, and intermediary services in Central Asian and West Asian countries; give full play to the fact that multi-ethnic groups are concentrated in Northwest China and have long-term exchanges with and popular support from the countries along the "Belt and Road"; boost in-depth cooperation with and common development of the countries along the "Belt and Road."
(Author's affiliation: Research Center for Theoretical System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in Gansu Province )