28th March 2019
If you’ve been following global news lately, the New Chinese Silk Road Project has been making headlines in the past few years. The ambitious $900 billion project is simultaneously reviving history - and making it!
You may have heard of the ancient Silk Road, a continent-spanning trade route that connected ancient civilizations between the East and West. The Silk Road wasn’t actually a road in the physical sense- rather, it was two routes that traders from as far away as Greece, Italy and Rome could connect with outposts in China, India, Japan and other Far East countries. The Silk Road ran across the continent, with offshoots connecting maritime posts and southernmost countries on the Asian continent.
Now, China is bringing it back.
The goal of the project is, in a nutshell, to improve global trade through infrastructure investments in several regions along two routes. These two routes are broken up into “The Belt” which covers land routes, and “The Road”, which covers maritime routes of trade.
Two major economic corridors are also planned to connect the coastal city of Gwadar in Pakistan to China, as well as a coastal port in East India.
Ultimately, China is hoping to partner with nations and infuse trillions of dollars into local ports, industries, and infrastructures to bring the world into a “golden age of commerce.”
China plans to invest in trade infrastructure on a route from China through some of the following countries:
The “end” of The Belt will be the coastal port of Venice, Italy, which also serves as the “end” of The Road maritime route.
The Belt closely mirrors the original ancient Silk Road trade route that once connected continents together through global trade. Although geographic borders have changed, and parts of Europe are being included in the route that were not originally reflected in the centuries-old Silk Road, the route through Central Asia and the Middle East are very similar to the original route.
Also drawing heavy inspiration from trade routes that have existed between ancient civilizations, the Belt aims to connect the following ports via sea:
Like it’s ancient inspiration, the maritime route of The Road traces the coast of Asia and Africa’s continent, while expanding slightly to capture the ports of Singapore, the Maldives and Seychelles islands. The Suez Canal in Egypt will once again link the modern day trade route to ports in the Middle East and Italy, as it did many centuries ago for the new Chinese Silk Road.
The New Silk Road Project has met mixed reviews globally, as many nations question Chinese motives behind the project. Beijing has promised to lend as much as $8 trillion to 68 countries to build infrastructure. That’s roughly 65% of the global population, and as much as one-third of global GDP.
China refutes claims that it’s trying to become the next global superpower, and instead assures the world it is seeking to build a “new era of globalization” that will benefit everyone in terms of commerce.
Several nations, including India, are concerned about the implications of debt and negatively impacted communities. However, both Pakistan and Chile are in outspoken support of the project, believing it will level the playing field on a global scale and redistribute trade wealth that has been largely enjoyed by top nations, including the United States.
The infrastructure promises also will directly benefit these nations by infusing cash into local economies, ports and businesses in a way that could change each nations trade for decades to come.
As we’ve mentioned before, the New Silk Road Project will ultimately follow in an ancient trade route set by ancestral traders across the globe. Although the infrastructure supported by China’s project probably won’t revive centuries-old outposts along the original route, you can travel to many of the routes that wound through modern-day China yourself with Wild Frontiers.
The Chinese Silk Road journey begins in Beijing, where you will have the opportunity to tour the Temple of Heaven and view a section of the ancient Great Wall of China. You’ll also visit the iconic Tiananmen Square and journey through The Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.
Xi’an is the next destination, where you will explore the old town, the 12th century Mosque in the Muslim quarter and relics of the 11 dynasties of China.
As you move westward, you’ll see the Magao Grottoes in the desert oasis city of Dunhuang. The Magao Grottoes are best known by their other name- The Thousand Buddha Caves. This ancient network of caves is the greatest collection of Buddhist art in the world. As you climb the sand dunes and ride camels around Dunhuang, you’ll see other iconic sites, such as the Crescent Moon Spring.
You’ll also visit Turpan, one of the lowest points on earth as you near the Chinese border. This desert oasis is named the ‘Fiery Land’, and contains the ancient city of Jiaohe and famous grape trellises. Before doubling back across Northern China, you’ll also visit Urumqi, the farthest major modern city from any sea or ocean. You’ll also see Kashgar, the largest desert oasis city in Central Asia and it’s famous Sunday Market.
As the world is ushered into a new era of globalization and a revival of trade routes, it’s important to experience the historical Silk Road and the route that connected civilization and brought new textiles, artwork, languages, religions and more from continent to continent. On your 14-day journey through the Chinese portion of the Silk Road, you’ll see once-in-a-lifetime sites, like the Terracotta Warrior Army at Xi’an, the Thousand Buddha Caves and the breathtaking mosques in Kashgar, Urumqi and more.
As you feast your eyes on these bucket-list worthy views, you’ll realize that you’re standing in the spot that ancient traders stood in and experiencing the same awe-inspiring views that they did on your journey through the Silk Road in China.
Interested in the Silk Road? Why not look at our Silk Road tours.