Xian was the entry point to the Ancient Silk Road more than 2,000 years ago, and a major trading hub. Today, the city is assuming the same important role under China’s belt-and-road initiative. This initiative is aimed at broadening China’s connections with more than 60 countries in Europe, the Middle East and the rest of Asia along land routes forming the Silk Road Economic Belt, and sea routes forming the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. At the Belt and Road – New Opportunities for Xian investment and cooperation promotion conference in July, in Shenzhen, Shangguan Jiqing, mayor of Xian, said that the central government had tasked the city – as the starting point of the Silk Road Economic Belt – with developing itself into the new base for reforming and opening up inland regions, and with becoming China’s window opening up onto the West. During the 13th five-year plan (2016 to 2020), construction of the city is to be accelerated to develop Xian into an international cosmopolitan centre connecting China with the West. Various strategic industries are to be centred in Xian, including finance, trading and logistics; machine manufacturing; energy storage, transport and exchange; culture and tourism; science and technology research and development; and staff training. Shangguan said that Xian not only has history, culture and location on its side, but had also developed a solid foundation in terms of infrastructure, science and higher education in recent years. It has also become an important base for advanced manufacturing and for scientific innovation. The mayor said that it was a great time to invest in Xian, as plenty of opportunities were expected to arise from the central government’s promotion of the belt-and-road initiative. He added that projects with good development potential were available across a broad spectrum of industries, especially equipment and manufacturing, culture and travel, scientific research and development, biomedicine and infrastructure construction.