Spirit of Silk Road drives global prosperity

Editor’s note:

Since its founding over a century ago, the Communist Party of China has been committed to serving the people with a spirit that includes devotion and dedication to the common good. Understanding the full spectrum of the CPC spirit is a key to understanding how China became what it is today. In this series, Shanghai Daily uses true stories to explain this ideal that unites the nation and its people in their effort to create a better world for all.


A caravan crosses a desert.

An iconic stone statue in the city of Xi’an in northwest China captures a prosperous scene along the ancient Silk Road – Western businessmen drive a camel train carrying goods newly acquired products from the East.

In the same city, a Chang’an China-Europe freight train departs daily for Kazakhstan from the international port of Xi’an. The rail service now serves 200 cities in 24 European countries, forming a new transport network for the modern Silk Road.

For millennia, the exchanges along this route have shaped the spirit of the Silk Road, which is embodied in peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. . Such an understanding also illuminates one of the fundamental principles of international interaction today.

ancient silk road

The Silk Road first appeared over 2,100 years ago in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) after the Chinese envoy Zhang Qian visited Central Asia twice. The Imperial envoy was tasked with exploring the unknown lands beyond the region in search of trading partners and potential allies.

The expedition went on to help form the ancient Silk Road, stretching over 6,400 kilometers from the Chinese capital of Chang’an (now Xi’an) to Rome, which played a crucial role in facilitating economic, cultural, political and religious interactions between East and West.

Some 1,500 years later, another Silk Road across the sea was opened by Chinese explorer, diplomat and admiral Zheng He in the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Commanded by the Yongle Emperor and his successor, Zheng commanded seven expeditionary voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. His giant ships could carry hundreds of sailors on their four decks and were larger than any wooden ship ever recorded.

Spirit of Silk Road drives global prosperity


A statue of Zheng He and a replica of his “treasure ship” in a park in Suzhou, in neighboring Jiangsu province.

At the end of the 19th century, the German geographer and traveler Ferdinand von Richthofen named the roads die Seidenstraße, which means “the silk road”, in his book “China”. It takes its name from the lucrative trade in silk textiles produced almost exclusively in China.

The ancient Silk Road was a platform for people-to-people and cultural exchanges, where ethnic, racial, religious and cultural convergence occurred through the centuries.

Through land and sea trade routes, Chinese silk, tea and porcelain were exported to Europe, the Mediterranean regions and Southeast Asia, while agricultural products and exotic fruits, such as walnuts , pepper, grapes, pomegranates and carrots, were imported into China.

During the 10th century, the poems of famous Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) poets Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen were spread to Western countries via road, while foreign music and musical instruments became popular with the general public and the imperial family in China.

Spirit of Silk Road drives global prosperity


A map of the ancient Silk Road in the Tang Dynasty

Between the 12th and 15th centuries, the inventions of paper, compasses and gunpowder in China reached Europe via the Silk Road, enabling the Renaissance, maritime exploration, the Protestant Reformation and scientific revolutions and industries that have changed the world.

The Mogao Caves in northwestern China’s Gansu Province, a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1,000 years, records and demonstrates how Eastern and Western cultures were exchanged.

Exotic clothing, musical instruments and dance postures are depicted in the delicate frescoes of the ancient town of Dunhuang, hub of the Silk Road.

The ancient road has seen a revival during the 21st century.

China’s B&R initiative

China proposed to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in cooperation with other countries along the route in 2013.

The initiative focuses on promoting policy coordination, infrastructure and facility connectivity, unhindered trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties, with the aim of bringing benefits to all and build a community of destiny for humanity.

From 2013 to 2021, the total volume of trade in goods between China and countries along the BRI routes amounted to nearly $11 trillion, while two-way investment exceeded $230 billion. according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

After the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, the China-Europe freight railway, known as the New Silk Road, has become a lifeline for transporting anti-COVID supplies, especially when air and sea transport was largely paralyzed.

Spirit of Silk Road drives global prosperity


Chinese and German employees pose with a train titled ‘Shanghai’ on the China-Europe Freight Railway in Hamburg, Germany.

By July 2022, the railway had transported 109,000 tons, or 14.2 million medical items, to Italy, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands Bas and Lithuania, and from there to other European countries.

More projects focus on the basic needs of people in developing countries. In Senegal, a rural well-drilling project, consisting of 251 wells and 1,800 km of water pipelines that China pledged to fund, has brought clean water to one-seventh of the population Senegalese.

Meanwhile, in Argentina, a photovoltaic plant in the northern province of Jujuy is powering some 160,000 homes.

Thanks to the modern maritime silk road, Chinese hybrid rice has been promoted in many places in Africa to greatly increase food production and reduce famine and poverty.

“One of the contributions of the Belt and Road Initiative to the African continent is in poverty reduction and agricultural development,” said Lewis M. Ndichu, a researcher at the Nairobi-based Africa Policy Institute think tank. .

More than 20 Luban workshops, named after the legendary Chinese master carpenter Lu Ban (507-444 BC), have shared the country’s professional education experiences with 19 countries, including Thailand, Cambodia , Portugal, United Kingdom, Djibouti and Egypt.

Spirit of Silk Road drives global prosperity


A Modern Factory in Kazakhstan under the Belt and Road Initiative Cooperation

Traditional Chinese medicine has become a new option for patients from countries along the Belt and Road as China promotes TCM abroad.

In 2021, Xi’an TCM Encephalopathy Hospital in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, Astana Medical University and Nazarbayev University School of Medicine jointly established a rehabilitation center for brain diseases in Nur-Sultan, capital of Kazakhstan. More than 3,700 people have sought treatment at the center.

The Belt and Road Initiative gives the Central Asian region an opportunity to fulfill the strategic task of direct access to seaports and transform the region into a transport hub of transcontinental highways from east to west and from north to south, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov commented. Xinhua News Agency.

A World Bank report predicted that Belt and Road Initiative transport projects could, by 2030, help lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million of moderately poor people in the world, according to Xinhua.

Spirit of Silk Road drives global prosperity


Two students from Atelier Luban in Djibouti receive vocational training.

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