China's overland Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road Thread


ahojunk

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By AN BAIJIE (China Daily)

President urges proactive role in implementing projects along routes to provide a 'sense of gain'

China is willing to give other countries "a ride" as it renews ties, via the Belt and Road Initiative, with nations along the old Silk Road routes, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday.

As the second-largest economy in the world, China should be "more proactive" in dealing with other countries, Xi told a meeting attended by government officials, entrepreneurs and scholars.

The president encouraged Chinese companies to invest in countries along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

He also said China welcomes investment from those countries.

According to Xi, more than 100 countries and global organizations have participated in China's Belt and Road Initiative, and more than 20 countries have worked with China in production capacity cooperation in such areas as railway construction and nuclear power.

The president urged the implementation of Belt and Road projects to ensure that the countries involved have "a sense of gain".

The export of China's production and construction capacity could support the Belt and Road countries to push forward industrialization and will help to stabilize the world economy, he said.

The Silk Road Economic Belt is a land-based route from China through Central Asia and Russia to Europe. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is a strategic route through the Strait of Malacca to India, the Middle East and East Africa.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, began to take shape in 2014 with a focus on infrastructure.

Xi has made state visits to a number of countries, including the Czech Republic, Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan, along the Belt and Road routes this year. More than 30 countries and international organizations have signed agreements and memorandums of understanding with China on jointly implementing the Belt and Road strategy.

As part of the Belt and Road projects, freight trains have made more than 2,000 trips from China to Europe and back on 39 rail lines, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Wang Licheng, board chairman of Hangzhou-based Holley Group, said at the meeting that the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Zone, jointly developed by Wang and his partners in Thailand, has created more than 20,000 jobs for people in Thailand's east coastal region.

The company plans to build an occupational school near the industrial zone to train more skilled workers, a proposal that has been welcomed by Thai authorities, he said.

The entrepreneur suggested that the construction of industrial parks abroad should be set as China's national strategy, with supportive policies established to encourage private companies to expand business overseas.

Liu Weidong, director of the Belt and Road Strategy Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that through the Belt and Road strategy, China could allocate global resources and provide services for the whole world.

Wang Yiwei, an expert on European studies with Renmin University of China in Beijing, said that through the Belt and Road projects, China could share its development experience with other countries as well as find new markets for its production capacity.

Countries in the Central and Eastern Europe region are eager to develop ties with China to attract more Chinese investment, and President Xi's state visits to the CEE countries in March and June have brought results, he said.
 

ahojunk

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Updated: 2016-08-19 07:55
By Luo Wangshu(China Daily)

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A pilot route to simplify international freight transportation across China, Mongolia and Russia hit the road in Tianjin on Thursday, aiming to boost economic cooperation and trade between the countries.

"The pilot trip is an effective trial to carry out the nations' top strategic plans in the transportation field, and also a move to deepen economic cooperation in the economic corridor through China, Mongolia and Russia," said Liu Xiaoming, vice-minister of transportation, adding that the pilot trip will coordinate freight transportation policies and standards in the economic corridor, aiming to simplify freight transport procedures along the route.

In July, China joined the TIR Convention, an international system allowing transportation of authorized goods through member states without being subject to customs inspections. It takes effect on Jan 5. Russia and Mongolia are already TIR member countries.

The estimated seven-day trip covering 2,152 kilometers will stop at 11 cities, including China's border city Erenhot, Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar and Russia's Ulan-Ude.

A total of nine trucks are participating in the trip - three each from China, Mongolia and Russia.

"It will be a milestone in our trilateral transportation," Liu said.

The route links China's One Belt, One Road initiative with Mongolia's Prairie Road program and Russia's transcontinental rail plan.

"The new route will open the Mongolian and Russian markets for us. For example, when the route opens, high value-added products such as electronic products and tropical fruits can be transported by road from South China, and even Southeast Asian countries, to Mongolia and Russia," said Guo Xin, general manager of Nanjing Xinjinhang Logistic Co, which is participating in the pilot.

"Air cargo is very expensive. Now electronic products from Samsung and Huawei are usually sent to Mongolia and Russia by plane. If the road corridor opens, it would be a more cost-effective alternative," Guo said, adding that the cost of road transportation is about one-tenth of air transportation.

"One truck carrying about 20 metric tons of freight from South China's Guangxi GuangxiZhuang autonomous region to Russia costs about $4,000. But air cargo is calculated by the kilo," Guo said.

China signed road freight agreements with Mongolia in 1991 and Russia in 1992.

Last year, 3.7 million passengers and 24.6 trillion kilo-grams of freight were transported between China and the two countries.

In 2014, President Xi Jinping proposed a China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. Details were dis-cussed by the presidents of China, Mongolia and Russia, aiming at strengthening regional ties and boosting trade.
 

Equation

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Why Is China Building A New City In Georgia?

But why would a company from dusty Urumqi, in China’s far western Xinjiang province, have any interest in building a city in Tbilisi, 3,459 kilometers away?

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The story goes that Mi Enhua, the founder and president of Hualing Group, fell in love with Georgia after visiting in 2007 to the extent that he wanted to help rebuild the country as it emerges from decades of post-Soviet turmoil.

“He just liked Georgia because of its scenery and good political and business environment,” Sioridze said. “So they decided to start developing their business here.”

Whether the reason behind Hualing’s origins in Georgia are perhaps a little more pragmatic than this is irrelevant, as the company is now the single largest investor in the country. Hualing has already pumped half a billion dollars into Georgia already, with an array of large-scale projects which include the
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, various luxury hotels, a major wood harvesting operation, a booming wine export enterprise, a massive tea cultivation program, and 90% ownership of the once domestic Basisbank, in addition to the new city.


Hualing Tbilisi Sea New City is rising up from what was recently agricultural land outside of Georgia’s capital. Image: Wade Shepard.

However, Hualing’s international operations are not exclusive to Georgia. Running flush with
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, which encourages domestic companies to invest internationally, Hualing has extended its reach far beyond its native country, and now has an international portfolio which includes projects in the EU and the USA, in addition to Georgia.

The origins of Tbilisi Sea New City resulted from an interesting deal that the Georgian government made with Hualing. Needing additional infrastructure to host the 2015 Youth Olympics but not having the adequate funds to build it themselves, Georgia turned to Hualing. In exchange for building a “village” for the athletes to live in during the games, the Chinese company would be granted rights to sell the properties later on as well as develop 420 hectares of surrounding land for a new city. According to the Hualing representatives that I spoke with, it was a straight trade — no money was exchanged.

What was local reaction to a Chinese company building a new city in Georgia?

“At the start some people came with demonstrations, saying that China was invading Georgia,” Botchorishvili explained. “At first they were saying that a half million Chinese people would come to live here, but it was not correct information.”

According to the MOU that Hualing signed with the Georgian government, which covers all of their projects in the country, no less than 70% of their long-term workforce must be sourced locally. Currently, the company has exceeded this requirement, and over 80% of their workers are from Georgia — including much-sought middle and upper-level management positions, such as those held by Sioridze and Botchorishvili, who are both local Georgians.

After the apartment complexes served their time as an Olympic village for 4,000 young athletes last summer, they were quickly turned back over to Hualing, who had been selling them on the open market. Paying $650 per square meter — a fraction of what real estate costs in China’s big cities — 80% of the units quickly sold. Three months after the games, residents began moving in.

There are now nearly 1,000 families living in the six completed buildings of Tbilisi Sea New City’s residential area, 95% of them being local Georgians — mainly young professionals from the center of Tbilisi. The signs of inhabitation were everywhere: most of the windows had curtains hanging in them, there was laundry drying on balconies, residents were slowly driving through the complex, children were playing on the new playground. While this type of
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and is truly nothing to speak of, it comes off as something new and novel in Georgia.


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The new city is being built in stages on a ten year development plan. The first stage was the creation of the hotel and the Olympic Village. The second stage will bring the amenities that will transform the place into a fully functioning urban entity: schools, cafes, restaurants, police, a fire department, a hospital, as well as more hotels, over 20 more apartment buildings, and a neighborhood of luxury villas.

The Hualing Tbilisi Sea Plaza, which at 120,000 square meters is set to become the largest trade center in the Caucasus, is part of this second stage of development. It is a massive, half a kilometer long commercial nexus that includes a colossal shopping plaza, a warehouse area, hundreds of offices for import/exporters, and its own bonded zone, which can quickly do customs clearances on the spot. This trade center is scheduled to open by the end of the year.

Located on the most direct route between
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and Europe, the Caucasus region was a fundamental part of the ancient Silk Road. This is a position that Georgia is trying ardently to renew, and with
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with the EU, the CIS, and Turkey; preferential trade pacts with the USA, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, and Japan; as well as an impending free trade agreement with China, this is something the country is moving towards very rapidly.


The largest trade center in the Caucasus region is almost ready to open in Hualing Tbilisi New City in Georgia. Image: Wade Shepard.

Beyond the village for the Youth Olympics, the benefit of Tbilisi New City for Georgia is improved and expanded infrastructure development, foreign investment, more jobs, residual tax revenue, and getting the broader economic ball rolling once again.

“We contribute to employment, we contribute to the development of the economy,” Botchorishvili said. “Hualing will also stimulate the tourism, airline, and energy sectors.”

“In addition to investment in our own projects we also bring other Chinese investors to Georgia,” Sioridze explained. “We are kind of like a bridge between China and Georgia. That is kind of how we like to think of ourselves.”

In addition to bringing Chinese companies into the
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, Hualing recently facilitated a JV between the Xinjiang Tianshan Cement company and Georgia to start up the largest cement manufacturing operation in the country. $60 million of FDI has been put into this project, which is projected to produce 1.2 million tons of cement each year — enough for local consumption and export.

This outside investment is vital for Georgia, as the country’s economy is still far from optimal. After arising from a crises situation at the end of the Soviet era, the country has been struggling to find adequate sources for economic sustenance. This is a country with a 12% unemployment rate, where nearly half the population lives in rural areas and are regularly classified as “individual entrepreneurs,” meaning they work off the grid in the informal economy or agricultural sectors.


A billboard advertising Hualing Tbilisi New City. Image: Wade Shepard.

Tbilisi New City is being built where there wasn’t any semblance of modern urban development before.

“Here, from 2012 or 13 there was nothing, there was just nothing,” Botchorishvili told me as we rode in his car through the project area. New buildings, half-constructed buildings, and prepped construction lots extended out in all directions. Hualing built everything here — even the municipal utilities and the very road we were driving on.

I turned to Tatia Siordze, a Tbilisi native who lived in China for a decade, and asked if she was surprised that a Chinese company was building a little piece of China in her hometown.

“No, I’m not surprised,” she responded. “I know that wherever Chinese go they do this kind of unimaginable stuff.”
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solarz

Brigadier
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Wade Shepard is getting a lot of business from Forbes these days. Looks like all those travels have finally paid off!

It's nice that he takes the time to respond to user comments (on Forbes). It's also funny and sad at the same time how many people think he's talking about Georgia, USA.

I've been following his blog on
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for a few years now, and he offers some great insights from the perspective of an American expat living (mostly) in China. His current "big project" is actually the new silk road, so I encourage everyone to go check out his blog!
 

Equation

Lieutenant General
Wade Shepard is getting a lot of business from Forbes these days. Looks like all those travels have finally paid off!

It's nice that he takes the time to respond to user comments (on Forbes). It's also funny and sad at the same time how many people think he's talking about Georgia, USA.

I've been following his blog on
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
for a few years now, and he offers some great insights from the perspective of an American expat living (mostly) in China. His current "big project" is actually the new silk road, so I encourage everyone to go check out his blog!
Yes he does respond back kindly to many of the commenters in a professional manner. I was surprised by that. Not too many journalist would go out of their way even to respond a single one.
 

ahojunk

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Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/8/25 22:57:07

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The first Central Asia cargo train departs from Nantong, east China's Jiangsu Province, Aug. 25, 2016. The cargo train left Nantong on Thursday for Afghanistan's Hairatan, marking the start of Central Asia freight train service. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)


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Customs staff workers pass by the first Central Asia cargo train before it leaves Nantong, east China's Jiangsu Province, Aug. 25, 2016. The cargo train left Nantong on Thursday for Afghanistan's Hairatan, marking the start of Central Asia freight train service. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)


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A railway worker gets on the first Central Asia cargo train in Nantong, east China's Jiangsu Province, Aug. 25, 2016. The cargo train left Nantong on Thursday for Afghanistan's Hairatan, marking the start of Central Asia freight train service. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)
 

ahojunk

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28 Jul 2016
The Business Times

By NOMITA NAIR & JUNWEI LU

THE One Belt One Road initiative has a short name with a big ambition. Announced in late 2013, it aims to promote connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily in the Eurasia region through the maritime Silk Road and the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt.

The strategic proposal - now formally referred to as the Belt and Road initiative - is also part of China's strategy to secure its status and influence as one of the world's most powerful economies. President Xi Jinping set his mind on the Belt and Road initiative, just as he did on his well-known anti-corruption efforts. While not short of detractors and sceptics, it is difficult to ignore the general support and enthusiasm generated in both public and private sectors, and the general consensus that the Belt and Road initiative has built impressive momentum.

The benefits of China's initiative are clear for the Asean region. With economic growth slowing in the region and a clear need for infrastructure development, governments across Asia have the opportunity to boost infrastructure spending and improve reputations through Belt and Road. However, as a nation state with some of the world's most advanced infrastructure and an already sophisticated port and transportation system linking to its neighbours, where do the opportunities for Singapore lie?

Singapore was one of the earliest supporters of the Belt and Road initiative, recognising its magnitude and enormous potential. Being strategically located along the maritime Silk Road, the Belt and Road initiative is expected to unlock untapped regions, namely Central Asia, creating new trade and investment for Singapore companies. In particular, Singapore's well established logistics and infrastructure sectors are expected to reap benefits from the Belt and Road initiative. Singapore has a strong pool of local companies with wide-ranging infrastructure capabilities, from power, water to transport management. These companies' familiarity with doing business in Asia also makes them excellent partners for Chinese companies to explore infrastructure projects and market opportunities in the region. The establishment of the Asean Economic Community in December 2015 is also expected to multiply the benefits of the Belt and Road initiative even further. Singapore is the country coordinator for Asean-China dialogue relations, with a remit to hold this role for the next three years. This will enhance Singapore's super connector role, particularly as Belt and Road links China with its South-east Asian neighbours.

In addition, as one of the region's leading financial and professional services hubs, there are multiple areas for Singapore to capitalise on. For instance, Singapore is a world leader for offshore RMB exchange, alongside Hong Kong, and this creates natural synergies for China-linked financings. Signs of this already happening can be seen from Singapore signing memoranda of understanding with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, China Construction Bank and Bank of China to bring more than S$90 billion worth of financing for Belt and Road projects to the table. Professional services firms are also poised to capitalise on the significant opportunities in advising both Singapore-based and foreign enterprises as they expand into the region. The Belt and Road initiative is not without its challenges. To succeed, it requires a combination of huge financial clout, cutting-edge technical acumen and the ability to implement projects in a region with very diverse cultures, religions, languages and political systems. Deng Xiaoping once said: "Learn from all countries in the world. And most of all learn from Singapore." Singapore still has much to offer China in this regard and the Belt and Road initiative will certainly lead to even deeper ties between these two countries.

The writers are from the law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP.
 

ahojunk

Senior Member
As part of OBOR, there are about 40 train freight routes from China to Central Asia and Europe.

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Xinhua, August 29, 2016

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The launching ceremony of the first freight train from Yiwu to Afghanistan in Yiwu, east China's Zhejiang Province, Aug. 28, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

The eastern Chinese city of Yiwu, home to the world's leading small commodities market, saw its first freight train leave for Afghanistan on Sunday.

It is the fifth cargo train route linking Yiwu to Europe or Asia. Cargo train routes already in service connect Yiwu with countries including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Spain, Iran, and Russia.

The train, hauling 100 containers of goods worth more than US$4 million, will arrive at Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. A single trip is 7,500 km and takes 15 days, half the time needed for maritime transportation. The service is expected to run weekly by the end of this year.

The northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-i-Sharif is a key commercial center near the border with Uzbekistan. It also serves as a logistics hub for the entire Middle East. The new freight route is expected to help upgrade trade cooperation between China and the region.

Trade between Yiwu and Afghanistan amounted to US$20.2 million in 2015, representing year-on-year growth of 2,284.5 percent. The total import-export volume reached US$18.3 million during the first half of this year, up by 4,683 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the local bureau of commerce.
 

ahojunk

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(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-08-28 14:39

GUANGZHOU - A cargo train left South China's Guangzhou city Sunday for Vorsino, Kaluzhskaya Oblast in Russia.

It is the latest freight train route China has launched to boost trade ties along the ancient Silk Road.

The train will travel 11,500 km over 14 days before reaching its destination. Its cargo includes garments, shoes, hats, cloth, lamps and lanterns, electrical appliances, and electronics.

Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, has traditionally depended more on maritime freight services. The new cargo train service saves 30 days compared with shipping services, and it costs just a fifth of the price for air transportation.

Kaluzhskaya Oblast has set up a major logistics center in the Vorsino industrial park to handle 150,000 to 350,000 containers a year, according to Russian media reports.

Currently, 26 cities in China offer China-Europe or China-Asia freight train services.

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(
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) 08:40, August 29, 2016

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China-Europe cargo train service to Russia is launched on August 28, 2016. [Photo: Chinanews.com]

China has launched a new freight train route to boost trade along the ancient Silk Road.

The latest route links south China's Guangzhou City with Vorsino, Kaluzhskaya Oblast in Russia.

The train will travel 11,500 km over 14 days before reaching its destination.

The new train service saves 30 days compared with shipping services, and only costs a fifth of the price of air transportation.

So far, 26 cities in China have launched cargo train routes towards Europe and landlocked Asian regions.
 

ahojunk

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Ah, lawyers are lawyers, they also want their cut!

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By Jiang Jie (People's Daily Online) 10:18, August 29, 2016

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(Lawyer representatives and experts on Belt and Road initiative at the seminar. Photo/Courtesy of Beijing Lawyers Association)

Only 3,000 licensed lawyers out of the 270,000 in China maintain practices dealing with foreign issues and affairs. This number is far below what is needed to meet market demand given the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, according to industry experts.

The figure was released at a seminar held by lawyers associations from Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province on Aug. 26. The topic of the seminar was the opportunities and challenges of foreign affairs-related law practices.

Of the 3,000 lawyers cited, only 300 can use English fluently in a professional capacity, and approximately 200 work in Beijing, said Zhang Wei, vice president of the Beijing Lawyers Association (BLA), to People’s Daily Online.

“This is far from enough, and this is only counting English-speaking lawyers, who can only cover some countries along the Belt and Road Initiative route. However, many more foreign language-speaking lawyers are needed for the total of 65 countries covered by the route,” Zhang noted, adding that the BLA has pledged to train 200 more lawyers within three years. Zhang also called for more financial support and preferential policies from the authorities to help promote the training.

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(Experts issue the report at the seminar. Photo/Courtesy of Beijing Lawyers Association)

In addition to language barriers, a report compiled by the BLA showed that many lawyers also lack knowledge of foreign legal and social systems, which is necessary to measure and prevent risks during overseas operations or investment.

Chinese companies are relatively weak in dealing with non-market factors overseas, such as international NGOs and labor unions, according to Ke Yinbin, a deputy director of the Center for China & Globalization. Ke said at the seminar that such factors are usually given inadequate attention and slow responses, which then worsens the situation. Instead, Ke suggested, lawyers should help companies to raise their awareness of such factors and thus be better prepared.

Echoing Ke, Ren Jianzhi, chairman of the Belt and Road Legal Research Council of the BLA, noted at the seminar that he personally has handled cases where Chinese companies are required to set up mosques within their perimeter in several Islamic countries.

“One should be able to conduct a case-by-case study to analyze the ‘pain points’ of a country or a company: what it lacks and what it needs – that’s where the market is,” said Zhao Lei, a professor from the Institute of International Strategic Studies of the Central Party School of the CPC. 

At the seminar, Zhao stressed that geography should not be the limitations for the Belt and Road initiative and more countries can be engaged to join the 65 countries covered by the route.

Currently, Chinese companies tend to hire local lawyers who are based in countries where they hope to do business - a practice that is not only relatively costly, but that also takes opportunities away from domestic lawyers, Zhao told reporters after the seminar.

Ren told People’s Daily Online that Chinese lawyers hold more advantages than their foreign counterparts when it comes to familiarity with Chinese culture and decision-making procedures, but that only comprehensive expertise in an overseas environment can ensure the best chance of success abroad.

“Perspectives also need to change for Chinese lawyers. They should stop looking at State-owned companies only – these companies have limited markets – but also offer their services to the vast market of private companies that are eager to try their hand overseas,” Zhao noted.

Also presented at the seminar are Zhou Xiaoyan, head of Department of European Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce, Li Gongtian, deputy chief of Beijing Justice Bureau and Gao Zicheng, president of BLA.
 

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