THE NEW SILK ROAD

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This is NOMADSofORIGIN's insight to the descendant of the vital, historical trading route - president Xi's 'road for peace'

Words: Aleksandra Georgieva

Photography: Yiran Ding

02 February 2019

'I did not write half of what I saw, for I knew it would not be believed'.
- Marco Polo

 

Travelling from his homeland, the iconic Venetian explorer and merchant Marco Polo, turned into one of the very first Europeans, who navigated through the ancient trading routes, known as the vital connection between the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, China and Europe. Through his chronicles of twenty-four years' worth of travels across the Silk Road opened the horizons of generations of Western nations. Today, we witness China's modern adaptation through president Xi Jinping's 'project of the century'.

 

Known as the Belt and Road Initiative, the project strives for upgrade of the network systems for railways, ports, highways and pipelines between the old routes. While critics remain uncertain of the purpose and outcome of the New Silk Road, president Xi puts it at the core of the foreign policy strategy of his country. He certainly does not slow down on the infrastructure spending, estimated to reach a total of $1.3 trillion by 2027. China has made statements ensuring it would not use the initiative for military or political influences. On the contrary, the country expressed its intentions of using the Belt and Road project to strengthen the cultural and economic understandings between nations. Yet, countries like the United States and Japan remain concerned. Economists back up the potential of the project to stimulate global worth, while president Xi prides his initiative as 'a road for peace'.

The necessity of the Silk Road dates over two thousand years back in history when the delicate fabric was discovered and produced for the high prizes covered by the Roman elite's demand. The original routes traded porcelain, paper, spices and gunpowder with the west in return for woollen rugs, glass, silver, gold and horses. But the old Silk Road was so much more. It also played the role of conduit for exchange of ideas, technologies and even religions so that nations could co-exist peacefully by helping each other to prosper.

Secretive mountain locations, oasis cities and rock formations lay across the dusty new Silk Road. While some areas may capture the essence of the ancient route, others are drowning in neon lights and tower blocks as the development rises and differs from the rest of this land, filled with kind, curious local people. Whether having lived centuries back in time or being part of the modern age where the future is yet to be uncovered, global nations have something in common. As diverse in our cultural values and travel experiences, we all remain on the same road - headed towards constant strive for growth and hopes for peaceful co-existence on the planet we all call home.

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