Two thousand years ago, the Silk Road fostered vibrant exchanges of goods, ideas and culture in a form of cross-cultural interconnectedness that had never been seen before. The Silk Road was a 4000-mile stretch of economic prosperity and multiculturalism, bringing together Romans and Chinese and Persians and many more. At the crux of it all were Chinese merchants: they first initiated the Silk Road and were the sole producers of silk, which catalyzed this breadth of trade with its high demand.
Nowadays, global trade looks a little different. China, while inarguably a major player, no longer wields the political or economic superpower position they once boasted. In a US-dominated age, China seeks to return to its former glory by reviving the interconnectedness and vitality of the Silk Road through the Belt and Road Initiative.
Starting in 2013, China started the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an international development strategy with ambitions to integrate Asia’s, Europe’s and Africa’s economies and establish China at the center of this connection. Its governments envisions the creation of roads, bridges, railways, ports, airports, energy pipelines and other forms of physical infrastructure around the world, building a vast network to boost economic interdependence and international cooperation. At the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping hailed the BRI as a means to deepen policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity.