Publications — 2020

Transit Route or Active Bridge?

Historically, the Silk Road was a conduit for people to exchange goods, information, cultural objects, and technologies. Only rarely would a traveller travel its entire length. This picture of human exchange would not only lose much of its colour if the route’s Central Asian trade points were to “fade from memory”; even then they were an essential component of the overland connection between China, other parts of Asia, and Europe.

It was no coincidence that Xi Jinping, the president of the People’s Republic of China, chose Nazarbayev University in the Kazakhstani capital of Astana as the location for his September 2013 speech, in which he first proposed that China and Central Asia work together to construct a “Silk Road Economic Belt”. He expanded on this vision a month later in Jakarta, Indonesia, announcing a “Maritime Silk Road” initiative. This signalled the beginning of a flurry of projects and transport linkages that are today being carried out under the umbrella term “Belt & Road Initiative”. Also in response to the Chinese initiative, Central Asian countries put forward several major project proposals of their own highlighting points of connection with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Author: Marlies Linke