– a Chinese vision for a link to Europe
Up to the Middle Ages, the Silk Road was one of the main trade routes to connect East Asia and Europe. Goods and ideas travelled on this road. Yet, in the past centuries, it lost its meaning. Recently, however, the Chinese government started an effort to forge new economic and political connections between East and West.
As “The Diplomat”, a magazine dealing with the Asia-Pacific region, reports, plans are ambitious. The “New Silk Road” is planned to follow original route, starting in Xi-an in central China and continuing southwest from Central Asia to Afghanistan, northern Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. From there, it will cross the Bosporus Strait and head northwest through Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic and Germany, moving on to the Netherlands, another route is supposed to end in Venice, Italy.
In Venice, the New Silk Road is planned to meet the “Maritime Silk Road”, which will begin in Quanzhou of the Fujian province in China, continue to Kuala Lumpur and Kolkata, India, then cross the Indian Ocean to Nairobi, Kenya, and from there it will swing north following the Suez Canal, cross the Mediterranean Sea and find its final point in Venice.
Thus, China hopes to establish closer political and cultural ties with the countries along the Silk Road, and to create a viable trade network.
Yet, such a project can only be successful, if all countries concerned establish a free trade zone, permitting undisturbed trade and transport.
East and West were once connected by the Silk Road. Perhaps mutual economic interest will be strong enough to create a modern, similar connection, turning the New Silk Road into a transit path again.