By Laiyin Yuan
Author: Qian Chunxian
Translator: Laiyin Yuan
Published on: 12/07/2014
Source: Xinhua News Agency
Original text (in Chinese): http://news.xinhuanet.com/fortune/2014-12/07/c_1113550648.htm
There is a Chinese saying: “if you want to get rich, build roads first.” Now, roads can also refer to airways, which are becoming increasingly important in the overall economic development of African countries. Chinese companies are undertaking many oversea airport construction projects, which will hopefully bring result in a true “win-win” outcome.
—-Laiyin Yuan (Translator)
With the New Year looming, China’s large-scale civil infrastructure construction strategy is focusing strong development initiatives through the idea of “stabilizing growth with airport construction.” On November 28, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced the approval notices for four infrastructure construction projects, including three new railway projects, such as the Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway’s Badaling section, as well as the second phase of Lanzhou Airport expansion project. These projects’ total investment reached 51.01 billion yuan ($8.29 billion dollars).
Li Jiaxiang, the Director of the China Civil Aviation Administration, stated that the civil aviation industry could be rapidly incorporated into the regional economic and social development strategy, because it requires fewer investments but has quicker effects and better ability to drive overall development. According to World Trade Organization (WTO) statistics, civil aviation currently accounts for about 15% of total global transportation, but its added value can account for nearly 50% of the global total.“Currently, we are implementing our airport construction plan in line with the ‘12th Five-Year Plan.’1 We plan to build/relocate 100 airports and renovate/expand another 120 nationwide, whose investments are as high as 360 billion yuan ($58.53 billion dollars),” said Wu Haoning, the President of the China Airport Construction Group Corporation (CACC) General Design and Planning Institute, which is a major driving force of Chinese airport construction.
CACC is the largest airport constructor in Asia. “200 airports in 60 years” was CACC’s slogan in the 22nd Airports Council International (ACI) African Region Annual Assembly, which made the company the most noticed during the entire conference.
As predicted by Hong Shangyuan, the Managing Director of CACC, Chinese civil aviation passenger traffic will reach 1.3 billion in 2030, and the numbers of airport will increase from the current 193 to 400, a net increase of approximately 200.
Airport layouts of Chinese provincial capitals and municipalities are almost completed, the airports tend to develop from single runways and airports to multiple runways and airports, as well as from medium- or large-sized airports to regional and general airports. Accelerating the upgraded capacity of existing airports, vigorously promoting the construction of airports with limited capacity, building new regional airports within reason, strengthening the construction of air control facilities for small- and medium-sized airports, as well as planning and implementing the collecting and distributing network have become the new directions for Chinese transportation airport construction.
In the winter of 1945, the Chinese civil aviation airport-constructing agency was established under the assistance of experts from the Soviet Union. Over the past 60 years, it has developed from a company with a dozen staff to the biggest Chinese airport constructor with 1,700 employees, which has built more than 90% of China’s airports, including the transportation hubs in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
With independent development, Chinese airport construction has met international standards after the “reform and opening up,” and it is accelerating its global development in line with the “going out” strategy.
“We believe that in the near future, most developing countries will have great potential demand for airport construction. In the meanwhile, our country has increased its assistance to developing countries. This overall situation facilitates the opportunities for CACC to expand its oversea business,” said Hong Shangyuan.
In April 2012, CACC signed a contract with the Togolese Ministry of Communications to build a 22,194-square-meter terminal with three boarding bridges, a new viaduct in front of the terminal, an expanded parking lot, and other projects.
“In the beginning, we completely had no idea about the financing and approval process of overseas projects. Without sufficient internal preparation, we were under enormous pressure,” said Liu Ying, the Chief Economist of CACC, when describing the company’s progress. “Now we have more experience, and the affirmation and trust from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and relevant financial institutions. We were invited to evaluate many oversea projects, even providing lectures and consulting for many airport construction projects.”
As metioned earlier, CACC will soon complete the terminal construction project of the Togo Lomé Airport. Due to its professional design, outstanding management, and good quality, it has become a “model project” and the pioneer for Chinese airport construction in Africa. With the establishment of its Africa office, CACC is speeding up its engagement with many airport projects in West African countries.
“The Togo Lomé Airport is expected to be completed and opened on December 25. The biggest opportunity for our development is the development of the Chinese civil aviation industry. In other words, the development of Chinese civil aviation facilitates the development of CACC,” said Hong Shangyuan. The Lomé Airport is the first overseas general contracting project undertaken by CACC. After its first phase, CACC will undertake its second phase construction. Besides this and the Togo North Airport, CACC is also negotiating many projects in Ghana and other countries.
The Lomé Airport project is believed to have an investment of $150 million dollars, which was all provided by from the Export-Import Bank of China under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) as a concessional loan and preferential buyer’s credit.
Hong Shangyuan noted that the Lomé Airport project is invested, designed, and constructed by China, which responded to Togo’s request and provided a good result. He said, “if you want to get rich, build roads first. If you want to stabilize growth, build airports first.” The successful development path of China will flourish in Africa and the full-scale implementation of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy.2”
About Xinhua News Agency (http://www.xinhuanet.com/ )
“Xinhua News Agency is the state press agency of the People’s Republic of China. Xinhua is a ministry- level department subordinate to the State Council. It operates 107 foreign bureaus worldwide, and maintains 31 bureaus in China—one for each province, plus a military bureau. Xinhua is the sole channel for the distribution of important news related to the Communist Party and Chinese central government.” (Wikipedia)
1. The five-year plans of People’s Republic of China (PRC) are a series of social and economic development initiatives. The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) was released on March 14, 2011 with the goals of addressing rising inequality and creating an environment for more sustainable growth by prioritizing more equitable wealth distribution, increased domestic consumption, and improved social infrastructure and social safety nets. (Wikipedia)↩
2. “One Belt, One Road” refers to the “New Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” that were proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 for regional economic development. The “Belt” is a network of overland corridors from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea. China plans to develop an overland network that connects East Asia, the Middle East and the subcontinent. The “Maritime Silk Road” refers to the connection of China’s coastline with Southeast Asia, the subcontinent, the Gulf and the east coast of Africa. China wants to build hard and soft maritime infrastructure throughout the Indo-Pacific, including new ports and special economic zones around them. Beijing is eager to assist the countries in the littoral improve customs coordination, expand e-commerce and develop the necessary institutions. “Carnegie Endowment for International Peace↩