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Reviving Silk Route: China eyes high speed rail link between Kunming and Kolkata

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

China has shown interest in establishing a high speed rail link between Kunming and Kolkata in order to revive the ancient silk route. The proposal was mentioned at the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) meet in Kunming.

As per media reports the proposal seeks to give a boost to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) multi-model corridor project initiated by China.

“We are in favour of it. The high-speed corridor would help the economies of Myanmar and Bangladesh as well,” Li Ji Ming, vice secretary of Yunnan provincial government was reported as saying.

The 2800 kilometer rail route could be a significant component for the BCIM corridor that seeks trade and flow of people across the border.

Reportedly, Yunnan is one of the major provinces engaged in the construction of China-Indo-China peninsula economic corridor and BCIM economic corridor.

Mink has asked for “active participation” from India to develop the BCIM and China-India peninsula corridor projects.

“We are glad to know that after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office, the look east policy has substantially moved ahead. We hope we can join our efforts together. We are big partners and influential in the region,” he was reported as saying.

China has been seeking a revival of the ancient silk route with a visionary plan to establish wide-ranging connectivity from Kunming to Kolkata. Reportedly it has pledged US $40 billion for the silk route, having a trade potential of US $132 billion.

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Is China trying to revive the Old Silk Route? Find out!

China’s primary focus on culture and history is a sign that this is a way back to a “normal” economy

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Illustrated map depicting the journey of the Venetian merchant Marco Polo (1254 - 1324) along the silk road to China. Image source: MPI/Getty Images
  • The attempt to revive Silk Route is to dig back into its past glories and historical achievements
  • In the oasis city of Dunhuang, the ancient Mogao caves are being restored with special care
  • The first International Expo will take place in the Dunhuang city in September 2016 

The project of developing the Silk Route is neither spontaneous nor coincidental. It is a strategic scheme to keep the accusations that Beijing is enjoying the regional dominance owing to its financial stature, at bay. Analysts opined that it is China’s way of sending a message that the One Belt One Road project is an extension of the peace treaties China had made with Asia and Europe in the ancient times. The new project is to honour that Silk Route which remained the connecting route of theirs for centuries.  The Chinese are aiming at the revival of their agreements with Asia and Europe.

The economically boosted city of Beijing. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
The economically boosted city of Beijing. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons

“The Silk Road has a shared legacy, for not only did it involve China, but many other countries including India, Russia, and Italy,” said E. Jun, the director of the Gansu Provincial Museum in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu to The Hindu.

In fact, the museums have antics which remind us of India’s Buddhist connect with China. The museum is under construction but the work is progressing at an extremely triumphant rate. A mega theatre is being built, a few miles away, in the area that falls under the Gobi desert. The scale of cultural infrastructure that is being developed is amazing. China’s primary focus on culture and history is a sign that this is a way back to a “normal” economy. At least, that is what they seem to be aiming at.

The Old Silk Route of Indo-China. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons

Mr Wu pointed told The Hindu that the overall contribution of the “culture industry to the total GDP of the city had already crossed the 55 per cent mark last year, and the figure is expected to rise, as plans to develop infrastructure take root.

The historic Mogao Caves. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
The historic Mogao Caves. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons

However, the critics perceive the work going on to develop the Silk Route through these plans as “cultural overkill”. They are saying that the attempts made by China to revive their cultural heritage by constructing new cultural sites will result in drawing in a flood of tourists to that particular area and the novelty of the Mogao caves will wear off.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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The Road well traveled: Silk Road

The World's First Information Superhighway that influenced trade, culture and livelihoods of people living in three different continents

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The Old Silk Route, Wikimedia Common

By Pashchiema Bhatia

The Silk Route or the Silk Road, which extends to more than 6,500 kms, is a network of ancient trade routes connecting Asia, Africa and Europe which also became central to cultural interactions. But from where did it derive this name? From 2nd Century BC, this route was majorly used to transport Chinese Silk to Europe through Central Asia. Although, there were many trade routes connected to the main Silk Route which existed in much earlier times and traded in various commodities ranging from salt. But the greatest contribution of Silk Route to world history was beyond trading few entities. It facilitated the exchange of ideas, art and science between Asia, Africa and Europe. The South West Silk Route is one of the most ancient parts of the route connecting the Yunan Province of China to Tibet and finally to India but interestingly silk was not the major entity traded in this part of the route- It was horses and tea.

Contribution of Silk Route

Macro Polo, a Venetian merchant traveller, travelled through the silk route and witnessed the opulence of the Chinese civilization. The bubonic plague (the ‘Black Death’) also travelled through this route. Buddhism from India extended to the world and Greek art from Europe procured into India through Silk Route. New sciences like Algebra were brought up when the Arabs acquired the understanding of mathematics from India and China. Gradually, new cities and empires started emerging along the route and it enhanced the exchange of ideas and culture to great extent which re-shaped the world history. Also, it is not just about trade and cultural exchange. Many times, India and China had to send troops to Central Asia to fight military alliances.

History

The political centres of Mongol Empire, the largest continental Empire, looped around the Silk Road but soon after the Empire was fragmented, the political, cultural and economic unity was affected. After the disappearance of Silk Route, the Europeans had to visit the prosperous Chinese Empire through alternate routes, especially by sea route. Direct trade connection with Asia would result in tremendous profits and hence finally a direct ocean route from Europe to the East was opened by the excursions of Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama in 1499 through Atlantic and Indian oceans. The assets of the ancient Silk Road are now scattered around museums of various countries.

In the end of the Nineteen century, the interest to renew the Silk Road arose when various countries started to explore the region. The “New Silk Route” is sometimes referred to the “Eurasian Land Bridge” railway route. In 2013, the President of China Xi Jinping introduced a plan of establishing a New Silk Road from China to Europe and the project was named as ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR), which includes land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road.

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

The Present Day

The route had fallen into disuse but eventually after a long period of hibernation, the importance of Silk Road is increasing again. The project seems to be put high on the China development priority list. Many places are opening up for tourists to visit. However, the authorities do not allow the visitors to wander wherever they like. Also, there are traces of ruined cities but there is still much to see. In 2014, the Chang’an-Tianshan corridor of the Silk Route was titled as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The initiatives would help to improve the business environment of the region and contribute to greater connectivity. Also, China is ready to expand its investment in India. The OBOR project might not only re-shape the continental geography but also the regional politics and security.

Pashchiema is an intern at NewsGram and a student of journalism and mass communication. Twitter: @pashchiema5

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India’s foreign policy: Challenges and Achievements

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www.freepressjournal.in

In this piece on India’s foreign policy, the author deals with the challenges and the achievements of the Modi-led Indian government in the field of International-affairs.

By Arpit Gupta

Strategies are never revealed, they are reflected in the person’s tasks. The Modi government has been working on the strategy of bringing foreign investment and enhancing economic cooperation with the strategically located, powerful, and developed countries of the world. The exploitation of the Indian market by China’s marketing experts had been a matter of concern for Indian government since last 5-6 years. The Modi government has come up with a planned agenda of convincing the countries of Indo-Pacific region to deal with the China’s increasing dominance in the Asian economy.

Modi’s foreign policy and his agenda of “MAKE IN INDIA” to bring foreign direct investment (FDI) in the manufacturing sector have been the prime issues trending in Indian economic and political domains. Modi has inherited foreign policy legacy of the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayi. Modi’s mind has been playing many tricks in these two years of his government and his decisions are not clearly understood by the common people of India. Since the work has not been on the ground, it appears to be only virtual. But for the sake of the country’s development, Modi’s efforts to enhance trade and economic co-operations with neighboring countries have been outstanding and his “ACT EAST POLICY”has gained an unexpected success till now. Modi’s foreign visits have been very much strategic and his visit to Japan, South Korea, US, etc. has given his government a lot to praise.

Modi’s intention to balance the economic upliftment of China in the Asian context has compelled Modi to work with China, which is the reason behind the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) between the two countries. Moreover, China, being the leading exporter of capital and technology and second largest economy of the world can never be ignored by any government in New Delhi. Modi’s focus on Japan is an important step in the Asian context as Japan is the leading country in the field of technology which India needs. Moreover, Japan is the only way  for India to enhance its economic importance and its dominance in Indo-Pacific region without any strategic alliance with China. The Indo-Pacific region has its own significance in the economic development of India and the visits of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to the neighboring countries located on the bank of Indian/Pacific ocean (for instance Vietnam) shows how important are they for India to strengthen its hold on the region.

India has often been confused regarding the path it should chose in dealing with the prominent economic giants. Whether to align with Japan-US or to go with China-Russia has been the dilemma facing the Indian foreign policy makers. India guards the sanctity of national sovereignty almost as zealously as China and Russia do. But Indian economic experts are more “tending” towards US-Japan because of their dominance on the world and their economic stability.

Only with time, one may be able to make a judgment regarding the success or failure of Modi’s foreign policy, but it is undeniable that world’s economic powers have taken note of India’s emergence economically and have recognized the fact that India is politically stable enough to maintain its economic progress.