THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE – THE NEW SILK ROAD: A RESEARCH AGENDA

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Despite the prosperity and long continuity in history, the ancient Silk Road was weakened in recent centuries. Only with the end of the Cold War, there come the chances for its revival. The launch of the belt and road initiative route in 2013 by the Chinese coincided with the development strategy change of China, but the Initiative has just still been an initiative open to be substantiated by future policies and changes in China and overseas. The early focus has been on infrastructure investments. On the basis of existing railways, China has developed with European and Central Asian cities an ever-intensifying network of scheduled freight trains to carry out and promote long-distance trade along the old Silk Road routes. Lately, the overland routes have developed intermodal services to revive the traditional linkages between overland Silk Road and maritime Silk Road. Also, a new transport connectivity facilitated by China-funded railway investments has evolved, for example, in Eastern Europe and East Africa and China investment agreements on the development of economic corridors in Pakistan and Myanmar. There have been and could be criticisms and skepticisms about the Belt and Road Initiative. The infrastructure facilities built under the Initiative would definitely enhance local and regional connectivity of the host countries, and when combined with attempts at local industrialization, facilitated by the new opportunities of trade and exchanges, and funded by China or otherwise, it would offer the best chance for lifting the local populations out of the trap of isolation, poverty, and marginalization.

troduction and history

With land, there will be roads. With sea, there will be navigation. Human societies have always been outreaching beyond their borders, which are always temporary and in fluid. For the interconnected huge landmass of Afro-Eurasia, there have also been throughout the millennia waves of migration and exchanges, unconstrained by natural hindrance. The name, Silk Road, was coined in the nineteenth Century, but cross-country and cross-continental trade routes have existed long before. Before the Silk Road of the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) in China, the Scythian or Saka (Chinese: 塞) tribes had traveled through the Eurasian Steppe reaching South Siberia from the Carpathian Mountains in Europe in the west. Their extensive civilization reach served to facilitate trade and cultural exchanges among economies and societies they encountered. The spread of jade into China and silk textiles to Central Asia predated westward expeditions of the Han China. China had also traveled by sea to Vietnam and beyond, and by land to access India from its western mountainous areas. Even at the time of the official launch of the Silk Road overland to Europe, by the way of the Kushan Empire (128 BC–230 AD), trade routes branched out from overland into the Indian Ocean waters to the Middle East and Egypt and from there to the Mediterranean Sea. Intermodality had long been practiced before the concept was known thousand years later.

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