The New Silk Road

The Silk Road also called Silk Route was an ancient trade route, linking China  with the West, that carried goods and ideas between the two great civilizations of Rome and China. Silk went westward, and wool, gold, and silver went east. China also received Nestorian(Eastern) Christianity and Buddhism(from India) via the Silk Road.

The Silk Road began in north-central China in Xi’an (in modern day Shaanxi province). A caravan track stretched west along the Great Wall of China, across the Pamirs, touching the Indian province of Ladakh, then through Afghanistan, and into the Levant and Anatolia(Turkey). Its length was about 4,000 miles (more than 6,400 km). Goods were then shipped to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

China, now a global superpower seeks to revive this ancient trade route to open new channels of trade with the West in light of various geopolitical and border disputes with her neighbouring countries.

Parts of the Silk Road survives in the form of a paved highway connecting Pakistan and China’s Uyghur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang. In the 21st century the United Nations planned to sponsor a trans-Asian motor highway and railroad. The Silk Road also inspired China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure development strategy authored by President and General Secretary Xi Jinping. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road fund will be the financing this gigantic project.

It’s flagship projects include the China-Pakistan economic corridor(CPEC), where China will fund the construction and development of a big port in Gwadar, Pakistan for trade and maritime shipment to Africa & West Asia.

China is investing heavily in BRI which includes many railway, energy sector, roadway and agriculture projects. Which is not surprising as the country being the world’s biggest oil importer, it’s energy security is a very important concern while current sea routes used to import Middle Eastern Oil continue to be frequently patrolled by the US Navy.

It remains to be seen whether the modern revival of the famous trade route is a successful endeavor.

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