A new impetus to the revival of the "Silk Road"

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A new impetus to the revival of the "Silk Road" 22.05.2017 11:03

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin visited China, where on May 14-15 took part in the international forum "One Belt, One Way". The forum brought together representatives of the top leadership of 28 states and will give a new impetus to the realization of the planned transformations in the construction of international cooperation.

Why is participation of representatives of such a high level in this forum so important? Four years ago, President Xi Jinping initiated the construction of the "Economic belt of the Silk Road." In the same year, 2013, the idea expanded geographically at the expense of the "Silk Road of the XXI Century" (MSP), later both initiatives were united under a single brand "One belt, one way".

The idea of a grandiose project will be drawn from the depths of history. The Great Silk Road (as the German geographer Richthofen called it in 1877) - the most famous trade route in the history of mankind, it was laid in the II century BC. The caravan road connected East Asia with the Mediterranean and, first of all, was used for export of silk from China. But the caravans did not go back empty either - gold and silver, precious and semiprecious stones, leather, wool, exotic fruits were brought to the Celestial Empire. On one road with a caravan they carried on the sale of horses, highly valued in China. Around this live artery life was boiling in all its diversity, different peoples knew each other and established contacts.

What is the idea of the "Silk Road" to serve in its new life? Its revival stemmed from China's search for new approaches to the problem of win-win cooperation between the countries of Eurasia and other regions, the need to develop and update forms of the interregional integration process. In the conditions of the global financial crisis, this would contribute to the most successful solution of domestic problems of China and other states.

In turn, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2016, Vladimir Putin voiced the concept of "Greater Eurasia", echoing the search for Beijing alternative globalization options.

In what sense is the alternative? The process of globalization has so far evolved in such a way that a narrow group of industrial powers played the leading role in it, acting as the subject of transformations, and the vast majority of the remaining countries turned into the object of their actions and were forced to drift in the direction they set. Moreover, there were conditions favorable for establishing the world domination of one power (together with the club of allies, the configuration of which varies depending on specific goals).

Realizing this, politicians began to call the world unipolar. The USA dominates, first of all, in the economy. Willy or involuntarily they drive the life of mankind to their own interests and standards, which turn out to be alien to other peoples and cause rejection. China and Russia, and together with them many other countries, including SCO member states, are looking for and finding ways of alternative cooperation.

At the first stages, the new project presented, rather, the idea of creating a wide network of trade routes that should connect China and Europe by land and sea. This has led to the need to develop an accompanying infrastructure - both in China itself and in all other countries through which trade routes will pass. Then the concept started to grow becoming a major interregional integration project.

Now one is talking about improving the system of logistics centers, expanding the capacity of transport corridors, developing production capacities along them, facilitating customs, sanitary and other procedures. It is also important to unify the relevant national regulatory frameworks, to form the international legal basis for such cooperation. To facilitate the implementation of projects within the "One Belt, One Way" Silk Road Foundation was established, in fact, the Asian Bank for Infrastructure Investments also serves in many ways.

Now China has begun to expand the geographical scope of the project, inviting countries from other continents to it. According to the Chinese leaders, by now more than 100 countries and international organizations have expressed support for this initiative.

Taking into account the national interests of all participants, this project can open up great opportunities, including for Russia. We are talking not only about the development of infrastructure and the construction of transport corridors necessary for transportation of goods, but also about cooperation in a broad sense that could affect not only trade, but also humanitarian, banking, tourism and many other areas.

"Over a year after the signing of the joint statement on cooperation on linking the construction of the" One Belt, One Way "with the construction of the EAEC, all parties in full unity achieved important progress in promoting cooperation in all spheres," Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui told reporters. According to him, joint projects such as the construction of the eastern branch of the Sino-Russian gas pipeline are successfully moving forward, agreements on financial cooperation have been signed, and projects for cooperation between the two countries in the spheres Including cross-border trade and development of resources, production and processing, as well as commercial logistics.

"Russia is an important country in the region of “One belt and one way”. Moscow and Beijing have firm political intentions to conduct strategic cooperation, create mutually complementary economic structures and a strong foundation of public opinion," the PRC Ambassador stressed. Apparently, the Great Silk Road has serious chances for revival, now on the scale of the 21st century.


Alexander Volkov, Doctor of Historical Sciences