Resource-rich and strategically located, city stands to prosper in coming years
Yulin, an ancient hub city in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, is ready to benefit from the country's Belt and Road Initiative.
"As the home of the legendary Terracotta Warriors, Shaanxi resembles the shape of a half-kneeling Terracotta warrior. Yulin is the warrior's head," said Zhang Haifeng, deputy mayor of Yulin, when introducing the city.
The province's northern most city has been a key area in Shaanxi since ancient times, thanks to not only its strategic geographic position, but also its bountiful mineral resources.
Today, Yulin vows to be a forerunner in the implementation of the nation's Belt and Road Initiative in Shaanxi province and bring itself closer to the outside world.
Founded in the Spring and Autumn (770-476 BC) and Warring States (475-221 BC) periods, Yulin grew into a prosperous border town during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
In modern times, the city is better known as a national industrial chemical-energy base producing coal, natural gas and other minerals.
The development of Yulin received a strong push in 2013, when President Xi Jinping announced the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to connect China and other countries along the ancient land and maritime Silk Roads.
"The initiative not only provides an important platform for symbiotic development with countries along the routes, but also brings new opportunities for China's western region," Zhang said.
Zhang noted that Shaanxi is the start of the ancient Silk Road in China and as an important part of Shaanxi, Yulin has already been taking steps to carry forward the plan.
"With broad horizons, an inclusive spirit and a practical attitude, the city will increase exchanges and cooperation with countries covered by the Belt and Road Initiative, explore new means of development and connect with the whole world," Zhang said.
Propelled by its rich resources, Yulin has become a major economic force.
Last year, the GDP of Yulin amounted to 262.1 billion yuan ($38.8 billion), ranking second in the province following the provincial capital, Xi'an.
It was ranked as one of the top 10 cities with the most potential for creating wealth nationwide in 2012 and a model city for new energy.
One of the city's goals is to become a regional hub for the energy and chemical industries of bordering regions.
The prefecture-level city is where Shaanxi, Gansu, Shanxi provinces, Ningxia Hui and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions meet.
Over the past decade, Yulin has also developed new industries including coal-electricity, coal liquefaction and newmaterial manufacturing.
To integrate itself into the Belt and Road Initiative, the city has been active in forging ties with countries along the route.
For example, its coal-related products have been exported to countries along the route such as Kazakhstan and India.
During the city's 11th International Coal and Energy Expo which concluded on Sept 27, 101 domestic and overseas deals were made with a total value of 119.7 billion yuan, the highest in history, according to the government.
Future tourism hub
In Yulin's plan, tourism is seen as a new source for cooperation with foreign countries.
Boasting a history of 5,000 years, the city is home to various historic and scenic sites including Tongwan city, the ancient capital city of the Huns and the Red Rock Canyon, the biggest cliff inscriptions in Shaanxi.
The Yellow River, the mother river of the Chinese nation, flows through Yulin along its east border while the Great Wall, the quintessential symbol of China, winds from northeast to southwest through the city.
Yulin enjoys a convenient traffic system of highways, railways and airports linking it with major cities in China such as Beijing and Shanghai.
With the longest highway mileage in Shaanxi - 938 km - Yulin enables tourists to easily reach cities such as Xi'an, Taiyuan, Hohhot, Lanzhou, Yinchuan and Beijing within a day.
The Yuyang Airport in Yulin has 21 flights linking the city with 24 large-and-medium-sized cities within China.
The capacity of the airport reached 1.39 million passengers in 2014, making it the second-largest airport in Shaanxi. Yulin has established its customs and e-port, the latter now applying to be updated to a first class aviation port.
In five years, the city will increase its capacity to receive 60 million tourists annually from both China and abroad, said Cui Yuan, the top official in charge of tourism in Yulin.
Cui said the city is in talks with countries such as Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand to increase cooperation in tourism.
"We will accelerate the construction of important tourism areas, improve hosting services and create a unique tourism brand for Yulin," Zhang said.