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First highway bridge linking China, Russia is ready to launch

Preparations in full swing, to significantly boost trade

2021/12/3 18:08:23   source:Global Times

The first China-Russia highway bridge, which spans the Heilongjiang River, is ready for launch, according to media reports, and it is expected to significantly boost bilateral trade, experts said.

The bridge, which stretches from Heihe, a border city in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, to the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk, is ready for operation, Russian media outlet Sputnik reported on Wednesday.

Preparations are in full swing to facilitate the opening of the bridge, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the facility is awaiting the official announcement of the opening, a source close to the matter told the Global Times on Thursday.

"The province has dispatched an inspection team to check the latest urban construction in the city of Heihe, and work resumption from COVID-19 is in full swing. It is possible that relevant departments have stepped in to prepare for the opening," the source said.

China and Russia pledged to jointly promote the opening of the Heihe-Blagoveshchensk highway bridge as soon as possible in a joint communique following the 25th regular meeting between the Chinese and Russian premiers.

The two sides pledged to strengthen pandemic prevention and control work involving personnel at border ports, and strive to improve cargo clearance at land border ports on the basis of virus prevention, the communique said.

Measuring 1,284 meters long and 14.5 meters wide, the bridge passed its final acceptance test in January. The two sides of the span were joined on May 31, 2019 and the maximum load capacity of the bridge reached 318 tons during the final acceptance test, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Road transportation is expected to deepen cross-border minerals cooperation between China and Russia, Song Kui, president of the Contemporary China-Russia Regional Economy Research Institute, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"The mineral reserves of the Russian Far East are in the forefront in the world, and China has advantages in mineral processing. There could be a huge development space in this field," Song said.

The city of Heihe, a major port for China-Russia trade, was put under lockdown again in late October with customs closed and railways suspended after the city confirmed new cases of COVID-19.

The city mainly imports agricultural products such as soybeans, chocolate, honey and ice cream, as well as steel and natural gas from Russia, while it exports engineering machinery, clothes and electronic products to Russia.

The pandemic is still hindering the operation of the bridge to some degree, Song said.

"The bridge and the border are expected to open soon after the pandemic eases," he said, adding that in the post-COVID era, the bridge will create more opportunities for both countries.

Apart from the highway bridge, other projects are also complete or nearly complete to facilitate trade and exchanges.

The Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye railway bridge that connects Nizhneleninskoye in Russia with the border city of Tongjiang in Heilongjiang was laid through in August.

Construction started on the world's first cross-border cable car linking Heihe and Blagoveshchensk in April, according to Russia Briefing.

China and Russia have agreed to actively explore cooperation in the fields of 5G, biomedicine, low carbon, smart city and urban construction, Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) spokesperson Shu Jueting said at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday.

Since the beginning of this year, bilateral trade has increased strongly. The value goods traded in the first 10 months hit $115.6 billion, which exceeded the scale of last year and reached a record high, the MOFCOM said.

China and Russia have completed a road map for the high-quality development of trade in goods and services, to achieve the goal of $200 billion in bilateral trade, MOFCOM said.

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