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article imageOp-Ed: The Silk Track — China decides to build a new Silk Road to Europe

By Paul Wallis     Apr 15, 2011 in World
Beijing - China was doing major infrastructure projects when Europe was basically at hut stage. The Great Wall, the Grand Canal and other works are hallmarks of Chinese engineering. Now, the Silk Track- Rail and road freight to Europe.
The rail concept is designed to deal with the incredible logistics of Chinese sea freight. It’s extremely expensive and time consuming to ship anything around Asia and the Middle East just to get to Europe, adding thousands of miles to the distance. It also involves the upkeep of thousands of ships and the joys of sea travel in some of the world’s most unsafe waters.
There are other good reasons. The Silk Track would improve trade for several central Asian nations. It would help their economies, providing international trade options for them and developing Chinese trade with them in a very win-win way. These countries need modern infrastructure, and most of them can’t afford the sort of loans required to pay for it.
According to China Daily the route will be:
“…the route within China will start in Lianyungang, in East China's Jiangsu province, and travel through Xi'an, in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, before reaching the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
The proposed route will continue through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey, before heading into Europe, he (Ju Chengzhi, director of the international affairs department at the Ministry of Transport,) added.
According to Ju, China has also proposed two other road connections between China and Europe -- one going via Kazakhstan and Russia and the other going through Kazakhstan and via the Caspian Sea.”
That’s a virtual census of Central Asian countries very much in need of major freight and logistic upgrades. At best, most of them have old Soviet era systems which are in various states of repair and unsuitable for many modern industrial and commercial uses. In effect, China is proposing a regional upgrade of trade facilities. Most of these regions are quite literally not on the map, economically. Kazakhstan and the Caspian regions are desperately in need of modernization.
This actually is very like the old Silk Road route. The original Silk Road was a good working network in the context of the old civilizations and markets. This looks like it’s logical successor, a true reincarnation of one of the world’s original global market. It would be very apt if modern China were to revive a structure which quite literally opened up the world to trade all those centuries ago.
The old Silk Road and the Silk Track have a lot in common. With any luck  the Silk Track will be as ...
The old Silk Road and the Silk Track have a lot in common. With any luck, the Silk Track will be as successful as its predecessor.
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This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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