August 26, 2019 00:44

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Tra Linh border gate (Cao Bang): Opening the road connecting ASEAN-Vietnam-China

16:22 | 08/02/2019

VCN- The Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s agreement to the construction of a highway project linking Cao Bang and Lang Son (Tra Linh - Dong Dang route) in a meeting with local key leaders (at the end of November 2018), is seen as a gift to warm the hearts of people in the northeast border area during the winter days, which is a joy in the Lunar New Year 2019.

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tra linh border gate cao bang opening the road connecting asean vietnam china
A scene of Tra Linh border gate area is invested in new and spacious construction, in which the highlight is the combined working building. Photo: T. Binh.

The beginning of the "dream" road

On many occasions going to Tra Linh border gate, the scene that I always recall and wonder about is the “Integrated Control Station” building - the working place of the functional forces at the border gate includes: Customs, Border Guard, Quarantine... Being a border gate with many favorable conditions in the locality when it is only 40 km away from Cao Bang City, the closest of the border gates in this border area, but the offices of the units are very poorly furnished. A 2-storey old house with yellow peeling paint, the floor is tens of centimeters lower than the road… These scenes have been portrayed as almost indicative of underdevelopment in one of the most important border gates of Cao Bang.

But it is in the past! Now, Tra Linh is like a "sleeping princess in the forest" who is rising and awakening fresh and radiant. From the headquarters of Tra Linh Border Gate Customs Branch (the Cao Bang Customs Department) to the border gate area (about 3 km away), we went from one surprise to another. The undulating hills in the gate area disappeared, replaced by spacious areas of bonded warehouses, of gathered cargo inspection locations...

But that is not the biggest surprise

About 2 km from the border gate, emerging from amid the winter fog is a red flag with golden stars flying in the wind. The flag is the highest point on the roof of a superstructure in the border gate. This is the combined working building that replaces the previous Integrated Control Station.

The building was put into operation at the end of 2016. The old house at the Station was leveled to build the more spacious and synchronous gate infrastructure. Coming closer, the building appears even more spacious with modern dark blue glass.

Standing at the national border, in front of the building - a new symbol of Tra Linh border gate, I looked up at the red flag with the golden star flying, the coat of arms and the words "THE TRA LINH BORDER GATE" solemnly standing out on the most prominent position, my heart was full of pride! Not only the working building of the management agency, along the way to the border gate are solid houses of 2 floors, 3 floors and 4 floors with plenty of colorful colors of people. That brought a new atmosphere, a new vitality for the gate area. And the joy has not stopped!

Before the Spring, the Tra Linh and Cao Bang people received good news. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc agreed to invest in building a highway project linking Cao Bang and Lang Son (Tra Linh - Dong Dang route) in a meeting with the local key leader (by the end of November 2018). Arriving in Cao Bang, going to Tra Linh these days, the highway story is always as hot as sweeping away the cold of winter in one of Cao Bang's coldest places. Because Tra Linh is not only the beginning of the highway that helps Cao Bang connect to Lang Son, there are also many development ideas hidden inside...

The Na Do entrance in the Tra Linh border gate area is changing with many civil and infrastructure works being hastily constructed in the last days of 2018. Photo: T.Binh.

Why is it Tra Linh?

To better understand the importance of this highway for the socio-economic development in Cao Bang, we met and worked with leaders of Cao Bang Economic Zone Authority. Warmly welcoming us is Mr. Hoang Cao Bai - Deputy Head.

Born and raised in Trung Khanh, Cao Bang, he served as a soldier presenting in many areas on the northern border, now being a leader of Cao Bang Economic Zone Authority, Mr. Hoang Cao Bai had thorough views on the change on every inch of homeland.

"Cao Bang has the longest border with China, up to 333 km with many international, national and sub-border gates... But it didn’t take advantage of this advantage for economic development for many long years, because both Cao Bang province and the districts of Guangxi province (China) on the other side of the border, are the most difficult areas of both countries. But with the efforts of the Government and local authorities, the development of border gate economy, especially in Tra Linh (Vietnam) - Long Bang (China), is flourishing to take advantage of natural conditions”- Mr. Hoang Cao Bai shared.

According to the leader of Cao Bang Economic Zone Management Board, in the direction of local economic development, Cao Bang determined that Tra Linh border gate is an international border gate (now is a national border gate), a driving force to create a corridor to connect and trade among ASEAN-Vietnam-China through Tra Linh border-gate economic zone (Cao Bang) - Long Bang (Bach Sac City, China). Because from China’s southwestern provinces to Tra Linh to Hai Phong seaport, and radiating ASEAN countries, it is the shortest path.

Arriving in Tra Linh on this occasion is easy to see the transfer area serving import and export of agricultural, forestry and aquatic products in Hung Quoc town (Tra Linh) in Tra Linh border gate economic zone with an area of about 100 hectares, with the total of 553 different items such as rice, fruits, seafood... being gradually built. In addition, the Chinese side is also focusing on investment in building Long Bang border gate, the project of the Center for international trade in goods circulation. When completed, the import and export volume of this area will be about 10 million tons/ year. The Chinese government also planned to build Bach Sac City into a Chinese-ASEAN agricultural center. "Currently, Bach Sac is providing about 30% of the total agricultural products of China" - leader of Cao Bang Economic Zone Management Board said.

During the visit to Cao Bang at the end of November 2018, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also pointed out three main directions in socio-economic development in Cao Bang: Tourism services; processing agriculture and forestry; application of high technology and border economy.

Therefore, the Prime Minister's approval of the policy for building Tra Linh-Dong Dang highway will soon take advantage and fulfill the above-mentioned goal. With the highway, the distance between Cao Bang and the major economic centers of the country is closer than ever before and also opens an opportunity for the province to become a centre for transshipment of Vietnamese markets to the Chinese and ASEAN market, even toward the European market in the future by the highway and trans-Asia railways.

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It can be said that the highway is the driving force for Cao Bang to change its “outlook” and attract businesses and investors who will be coming to learn, trust and accompany with the northeast border land of the country. The early construction of highway and infrastructure in Tra Linh and many border gate areas in the area is expected to keep investors staying with Cao Bang as the folk-song: “the rock seems to cling the foots, a haft of heart is Cao Bang, the rest is family”- was reminded by the Prime Minister when attending the Trade and Tourism Investment Promotion Conference in Cao Bang Province in 2018!

By Thai Binh/Kieu Oanh