When speaking about the “Silk Road” not many may recall just how long ago the road was “inaugurated”. Around since Alexander the Great’s reign, the road was one of the principle trading routes used back then.
Starting in Venice, Italy, the road passed through Istanbul, Damascus, Baghdad, Samarkand and Tashkent, and finished in Chang’an, China, today known as Xi’an. So it’s safe to say the road has had quite the number of visitors.
Today instead, a new Silk Road project is in the works.
A recent event that includes the Silk Road and its betterment, was a modern train trip taken following the same Silk Road. The starting point was in Mortara, a small town in Northern Italy. The finish line? The metropolis of 14 million inhabitants in Chengdu, China.
The trip took 18 days, with 10,800 kilometers between the Italian town and the Chinese megacity. Passing through 6 countries (Italy, Austria, Germany, Poland, Belarus, and Kazakhstan) the journey represents a great result for traders. By boat, the same trip would have taken 30 days more.
What’s better than avoiding a whole month’s time when trading? Part of a bigger train system inaugurated back in 2012 in Duisburg, Germany, the new stops added just keep lengthening the possibilities the Silk Road keeps presenting.
The impressive result shows the great progress the Road has been seeing, and the bright future it has ahead of it. One of the biggest investors and believers in the new Silk Road plan is China. In fact, it has been quite some time that the Chinese president Xi Jinping has been discussing the infinite possibilities the road can bring, especially given his foreign policy.
Rightly so, China is very interested in bettering the system seeing how it would mean being connected to Europe directly, and faster. The European Commision estimates that the commerce between China and Europe brings $600 billion in fruition to China, which is most likely to reach $1 trillion by 2020.
In order to make the most of the “Road” left to us by the past, a project known as the “ One Belt, One Road” was proposed by China. The plan is to involve 65 countries, and all of the total 4.4 billion people living between said countries. The project focuses on improving the connecting network between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, by bettering the airports, ports, railways, and roads between the continents.
China is so invested in the project that last May announced it would be investing more than $124 billion to the “One Belt, One Road” project. The project’s inauguration date is set for 2049, and will go to create 2 maritime corridors, and 6 land ones, between Asia and Europe. This connection will speed trading between the continents, and represent a transcontinental road that is hard to believe even exists. Furthermore, the fact that the project is working on the backbone of a trading route that Marco Polo also took is even more incredible.