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Creating a New Silk Road: China’s Billion Dollar Investment to Expand its Transportation Network

With an incredible journey ahead, the extensive network that will come from it, the new Silk Road is looking better than ever.

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. The difference between the two validate the investments made on the road, and give a hopeful image for the future.
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Not everybody may be familiar with the Silk Road, or how long it’s been around. Dating back to Alexander the Great, let’s say that the road was a very long commute option for merchants. With its starting point in Venice, Italy and stretching through Istanbul, Damascus, Baghdad, Samarkand and Tashkent, the road used to bring its passengers all the way to Chang’an (today known as Xi’an) in China. Surprisingly enough, we are still very much adamant in using the passageway today. The new Silk Road investment plan started back in 2012, and just keeps growing.

One mention of the road’s continuous expansion is a recent train trip taken following the old, and new route combined. Last November a train left from a small town in Mortara, Italy and travelled all the way to the bustling metropolis of Chengdu, China. The train left with 34 wagons full of various goods, and was to compete with the boats that usually carry out the same business in 48 days. However, surprise surprise, after travelling for 10,800 kilometers, and crossing 6 countries (Italy, Austria, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Kazakhstan) the train arrived in Chengdu after only 18 days. Yes, only because it took a month less than their neighboring boat route. The route is now part of the overarching train system that follows the new Silk Road, inaugurated back in 2012 in Duisburg, Germany.

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The Silk Road on the sides of Indus river, Wikimedia Commons

Overall, the 18-day result was very well received by merchants and traders. The difference between the two validate the investments made on the road, and give a hopeful image for the future. The route shows just how close Europe and Asia can get, and all the possibilities this closeness can bring. A main spokesman for the new Silk Road project has been Chinese president Xi Jinping, who has often spoken about investments and projects in his foreign policy plans.

In fact, China has been a very big player in the general new Silk Road project. In 2013 China announced the “One Belt, One Road” project. The plan aims at revisiting, and upgrading the infrastructure network – roads, railways, ports, airports – found along the road. The renovated network will go to improve trade between Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Last May, the Chinese government pledged an additional $124 billion investment, announcing that the project should be completed by 2049.

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A visitor walks past the statues of the characters from the Chinese novel ‘Journey to the West’ Thursday March 15, 2007 in Lanzhou, China. Lanzhou was an important town along with the ancient Silk Road connecting China and Europe. VOA

The project will focus on creating new transcontinental trading corridors between the countries. Two by sea and 6 by land, the corridors will strengthen the trading routes between Asia and Europe, and will go on to include Russia as well. With an incredible journey ahead, the extensive network that will come from it, the new Silk Road is looking better than ever.

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China Warns Canada Against Severe Consequences If Huawei CFO Isn’t Released

A Huawei spokesman said on Friday that the company had "every confidence that the Canadian and U.S. legal systems will reach the right conclusion."

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Huawei, China
A man lights a cigarette outside a Huawei retail shop in Beijing. VOA

China warned Canada on Saturday that there would be severe consequences if it did not immediately release Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.’s chief financial officer, calling the case “extremely nasty.”

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s global chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1 and faces extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions. The executive is the daughter of the founder of Huawei.

If extradited to the United States, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, a Canadian court heard on Friday, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge.

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Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.’s chief financial officer, is seen in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters. VOA

No decision was reached at the extradition hearing after nearly six hours of arguments and counterarguments, and the hearing was adjourned until Monday.

In a short statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said that Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng had issued the warning to release Meng to Canada’s ambassador in Beijing, summoning him to lodge a “strong protest.”

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Saturday that there was “nothing to add beyond what the minister said yesterday.”

Freeland told reporters on Friday that relationship with China was important and valued, and Canada’s ambassador in Beijing has assured the Chinese that consular access will be provided to Meng.

Good relationship

When asked about the possible Chinese backlash after the arrest of Huawei’s CFO, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Friday that Canada had a very good relationship with Beijing.

Huawei, China, Canada
The exterior of the Alouette Correctional Center for Women, where Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was being held on an extradition warrant, is seen in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. VOA

Canada’s arrest of Meng at the request of the United States while she was changing planes in Vancouver was a serious breach of her lawful rights, Le said.

The move “ignored the law, was unreasonable” and was in its very nature “extremely nasty,” he added.

“China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained person, and earnestly protect their lawful, legitimate rights, otherwise Canada must accept full responsibility for the serious consequences caused.”

The statement did not elaborate.

“There will probably be a deep freeze with the Chinese in high-level visits and exchanges,” David Mulroney, former Canadian ambassador to China, said on Friday. “The ability to talk about free trade will be put in the icebox for a while. But we’re going to have to live with that. That’s the price of dealing with a country like China.”

Trump-Xi meeting

Meng’s arrest came on the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump met in Argentina with China’s Xi Jinping to look for ways to resolve an escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

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A woman walks past an advertisement for Huawei at a subway station in Hong Kong. VOA

“We are tracking the developments of this case and refer you to the filings in the Supreme Court of British Columbia,” said a U.S. State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The news of Meng’s arrest has roiled stock markets and drawn condemnation from Chinese authorities, although Trump and his top economic advisers have played down its importance to trade talks after the two leaders agreed to a truce.

Also Read: U.S. Sues Chinese Tech Executive Over Business Dealings With Iran

A Huawei spokesman said on Friday that the company had “every confidence that the Canadian and U.S. legal systems will reach the right conclusion.” The company has said it complies with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and other regulations. (VOA)