The inauguration ceremony of China-Europe Block Train (Yiwu-Madrid) at Yiwu Railway Freight Station. (Photo : Getty Images)
China's dominance in the global economic stage continues to go on an upward trajectory, and its chances of remaining that way is set to improve with the introduction of the new China-U.K. rail line.
The world's second-largest economy welcomed New Year's Day by launching its first-ever direct rail freight service to London. The move is part of President Xi Jinping's aim to strengthen business ties between China and the U.K., CNBC reported.
Connecting London to the "New Silk Road" network, the China-U.K. rail line aims to maximize trade connectivity to energize an economic corridor between Asia and Europe. The service traverses through Kazakhstan, Russia, Poland, Germany, and France before it reaches the British capital.
Freight journeys along the China-U.K. rail line take approximately 16 days to finish - faster than trading by sea but cheaper than by air. That makes shipping between mainland China and western Europe more cost-efficient, particularly for valuable products that require the shortest shipping time possible.
The intercontinental service, set to roll at full speed ahead, highlights China's continuing trend of scoring opportunities to fill voids left by current geopolitical realities. As suggested by Forbes, China's inclination to seize prospects amid tumultuous political and economic events is key to its prosperity as of late.
The U.K. itself continues to reel from the unsightly economic effects brought forth by Brexit. That very situation currently serves as the hot iron China needs to strike as much as it could, considering that the British Isles has already set the foundation to alienate itself economically from the EU.
Chinese investments in London seek to maintain the city's status as among the world's financial capitals post-EU. Among those projects - all of which capitalize on the pound's post-Brexit values, include an entirely new financial district on the East End and the supertall Spire London project in Canary Wharf.
Outside the U.K., China has taken advantage of diplomatic strains to increase its international economic portfolio. It has since sealed trade and investment agreements with the likes of Russia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines--countries that have recently come under diplomatic odds with the U.S.
Thus, the China-U.K. rail line comes off as another addition to China's trophy cabinet of victories in economic diplomacy.
Interestingly, China's status as a world leader in rail technology may mean that the sprawling new line is just the beginning for its use of economic might as a diplomatic tool.