The New Silk Road (一带 一路, yī dài yī lù) is a strategic initiative of the People’s Republic of China to improve its trade links with countries in Eurasia.
The plan, announced in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping and disseminated by Prime Minister Li Keqiang during several trips to Europe and Asia, aims to involve 65 countries that collect about 65% of the world population and 40% of GDP. Its construction should cost at least $ 900 billion, a huge amount that not even the Chinese giant can manage alone.
The One Belt One Road initiative recalls the ancient Silk Road and the imagination of the ancient caravan routes of the great Eurasian areas, which favored economic exchanges between the Roman and Chinese empires. A long network of itineraries made famous by the stories of Marco Polo, in which goods, silk in the first place, crossed Syria, Iran and Central Asia, allowing a flourishing and widespread trade.
Roads, railways, ports, power plants: these and much more is what the One Belt One Road Initiative is about.
In detail, the land and rail connections would travel on three main routes: the first goes from Europe, crossing Kazakhstan, Russia and Poland towards the Baltic Sea. The second basically follows the Trans-Siberian line, while the last one, on south, would pass through the Persian Gulf, touching Islamabad, Tehran and Istanbul. On the other hand, there are two sea routes: the first would depart from the Chinese port of Fuzhou and across the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea would touch Africa and reach Europe, involving the northeastern ports in Italy; the second, always from Fuzhou, would point towards the Pacific islands. All this would then pave the way for gas and oil pipelines. The entire map of world economic flows could come out redrawn, albeit over decades.
According to the plans, it is expected to generate more than $ 2.5 trillion worth of trade within ten years. A freight train between China and Europe has already been active since 2011, which has reduced travel times for exchanges: if before 50 days by ship were needed, now 18 are enough.
The One Belt One Road project includes economic and strategic elements. One of the first is Beijing’s willingness to invest in the infrastructural development of the countries involved. Thiss reflects the effort to increase the productive capacity of trading partners as well as the degree of connection between China and Western countries.
The One Belt One Road initiative can play an important role in the economic growth of the most backward Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European countries, offering them a first-rate commercial outlet and a direct link to more distant and difficult to access markets.