Oct. 23 (UPI) -- China's regional politicians urged South Korean businesses to take part in Beijing's One Belt One Road Initiative on Wednesday during a forum in Seoul co-hosted by a civic organization.
Xia Deren, chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference of Liaoning Province, said China and South Korea should cooperate in the Chinese province adjacent to North Korea, Seoul Economic Daily reported.
Xia said the two countries should cooperate in a One Belt One Road "test zone" in Liaoning. South Korean and Chinese businesses also ought to "enter third markets together," he said, according to the report.
China's One Belt One Road strategy, launched in 2013, is an ambitious plan to connect China to Russia and Europe by land, and to connect East Asia to Africa by a maritime route.
China and South Korea "can together build the Dalian Free Trade Port, attracting world-class Korean companies," Xia said. "It will be connected by rail, aviation and shipping routes."
Xia also said he seeks cooperation with South Korea on the formation of a science park in the northeastern city of Shenyang.
"Through this, we will lead the industrial upgrade of Liaoning and enter a third market with South Korea," the Chinese politician said.
Seoul-based Korea China Association for Cultural Exchange co-hosted the forum where Xia spoke on Wednesday. No South Korean government officials were listed as present in the press report.
South Korean academics, including researcher Jung Joo-young of Yonsei University's Institute for North Korean Studies, took part in the discussion.
Jung told the forum many of China's partners are experiencing an increase in their debt ratio owing to One Belt One Road. Beijing must "demonstrate leadership" and resolve the issues, she said.
China is trying to attract foreign investment and visitors amid a prolonged trade dispute with the United States.
Yonhap reported Wednesday China's National Immigration Administration has expanded the number of cities where visitors from qualified countries can stay on a 144-hour visa-free transit.
The cities include Chongqing, Xian and Ningbo, according to the report.