The Ancient Silk Road’s Historical Significance and Its Role in Inspiring Joint Development of the Belt and Road Initiative

07-Jan-2021 Intellasia | PR Newswire Asia | 10:01 PM Print This Post

BEIJING, Jan. 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- An article by on the ancient silk road and the Belt and Road Initiative:

The ancient Silk Road was a major corridor connecting the East and West, which brought about commercial interconnection and economic interaction.  Looking back at the history, the ancient Silk Road includes the land Silk Road and the maritime Silk Road. The land Silk Road has its origins in the Western Han (206 BC -25 AD). It was formally established in 138 BC. At that time, the Western Han court sent Zhang Qian on a diplomatic mission to Xinjiang, or the Western Regions, as specified in the Chinese chronicles. That mission formally established a corridor between the Central Plains and the northwestern regions, thus marking the beginning of the land Silk Road.

The maritime Silk Road was referred to in the Chinese historical record called the Book of Han. In the early years of the Western Han, Emperor Wu dispatched envoys on a voyage that reached Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka). This event was considered as the beginning of the maritime Silk Road. Over the two millennia since its establishment, the Silk Road actually went on to encompass numerous intersecting passages that extended in all directions, forming a series of travel routes. The ancient Silk Road was one of the greatest undertakings of the human history. First of all, it weaved a network of transportation routes linking the East and the West. Secondly, it facilitated East-West trading and exchanges, by boosting the circulation of goods. Thirdly, it facilitated convergence and exchanges between civilizations and cultures from both the Oriental and Occidental worlds. In the end, it brought about unison between the East and the West in jointly contributing to the progress and prosperity of human society and civilization. The Silk Road witnessed the most splendid and wonderful epic of the human history. In 2013, China launched the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). A growing number of countries have joined the Initiative, and cooperation is expanding in infrastructure, trade, investment, and energy.

Why did China launch this Initiative and how has the Initiative been able to achieve its successes to date? The emergence of the ancient Silk Road was a corollary to economic and social development. Only when the economy has been sufficiently developed and productivity adequately increased will certain demands arise. These include the demands for personnel exchanges, trade, and cultural interactions. The Western Han was a crest in Chinese history, and saw the most significant advances in comprehensive national strength. During this period, agriculture made great progress. Centuries later, the Tang Dynasty (618-907) was another zenith in China's economic and social development. From the handicraft industry, agriculture, to financial industry, new progress was achieved. Such historical evolution and economic development provided the prerequisite and foundation for mutual exchanges, not only guaranteeing the material conditions for the interactions between en-route countries, but also supplying underlying momentum to the Silk Road's sustainability.

There are also contemporary reasons. The Belt and Road routes link up more than 60 countries and more than 4 billion people. The regions covered have the greatest potential for economic development, and for international investment. Many en-route countries also share the desire to restructure the industries, enhance the quality and capacity of economic development, and improve people's wellbeing. On the other hand, China has made progress that could not have achieved independent from the rest of the world. With a will to share capacity and achievements with the world, China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. The Initiative not only accords with the practical needs of the en-route countries to develop their economy and society, but also conforms to the intrinsic and objective requirement of global economic governance. The BRI has thus become a new solution presented by China to the world in this new era. As the "circle of friends" grows bigger, some have begun to allege that China is a threat, and that the Belt and Road Initiative is a form of neocolonialism. This is utter fallacy. Throughout the history of the ancient Silk Road, China has been the proponent and driving force behind this undertaking, without ever exploiting the Silk Road to occupy any other country or any inch of foreign land, or using it to monopolize the profits from the trading along the routes. On the contrary, history proves that China and the en-route countries conducted peaceful and friendly exchanges, honored promises, carried out fair trade, and established people-to-people friendship. According to China's historical records, the ancient Silk Road bustled with envoys from different nations and an endless stream of trade caravans. This is the real picture on the ancient Silk Road. After China put forward the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, nearly 200 countries and regional organizations have signed inter-governmental agreements on the BRI with China. The en-route countries, and other countries contributing to the BRI development, are all committed to one important mission, which is to maintain the peace and security along the Belt and Road. Without a peaceful environment, without stable political relationship and mutual trust, the building of the Belt and Road will lead nowhere. This is a lesson drawn from the history, and also serves the practical need of the contemporary development. Peace and stability are the indispensable foundation for the BRI's soundness and sustainability, and for bringing amity and wellbeing to en-route countries.

"Forcing Chinese culture on others" has never characterized the Silk Road or the Belt and Road Initiative. Along the ancient Silk Road, there was the ancient Chinese civilization, Mesopotamia civilization, ancient Egyptian civilization, ancient Roman civilization, and so on. These great civilizations all located along the Silk Road. Throughout the Silk Road history, different cultures blended together, learning from each other. For example, China's Confucianism and Taoism were introduced via the Silk Road to countries like Japan and Vietnam. Likewise, in Chinese civilization and culture there are also quite a lot of foreign elements in our music, dance, and our life. The diverse cultures along the Silk Road together created a colorful and splendid world.

As the Silk Road thrived, why did cultural exchanges abound as well? An essential factor was China's openness and inclusiveness. In Tang Dynasty, for example, the central government decreed that local officials all over the country should keep in friendly contact with foreign merchants so that they could feel contented. The officials were also required to get acquainted with trading and refrain from interference. The reason that China has widened its "friend circle" as the Silk Road developed was because of its openness and inclusiveness. Openness and inclusiveness in turn became an essential cultural factor that allows the ancient Silk Road to preserve its influence through modern day. The benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative are not exclusive to China. The Belt and Road Initiative is neither a reproduction nor an iteration of the ancient Silk Road, but a massive step forward.

China Mosaic

The Ancient Silk Road's Historical Significance and Its Role in Inspiring Joint Development of the Belt and Road Initiative


Category: PR Newswire, PRAsia

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