Reigniting the Silk Road Spirit: Connecting the World with the Belt & Road Initiative

It was back in 2013 that President Xi Jinping of China called for the joint development of an “Economic Belt among the Silk Road” and a “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century” during separate visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in September and October respectively. Embracing the spirit of the ancient Silk Road, the “Belt and Road” initiative is a “Chinese proposal; whose aim is to promote peaceful cooperation and common development around the world”.

More than 2000 years ago, travelers and merchants came from far and wide to witness the greatness of the Silk Road trade route that connected China to civilizations in Europe and Africa. The benefits of this route were substantial, both in a materialistic and a cultural sense. Bustling trade boosted the economies of large and small countries alike, while cultural interactions taught China about the vast world beyond its borders, and vice versa.

Mutual Benefit and Complementary Gains

Now, in 2018, the need for global cooperation, economic and cultural development is greater than ever. China has set their eyes on globalization and for the first time in many decades, their plans include the West as well as their own — more secluded — provinces. However, globalization faces new difficulties. A fair amount of countries has issues with subpar infrastructure while new developments are hindered by a lack of proper direction and funding.

According to the 2017 report Building the Belt and Road: Concept, Practice and China’s Contribution, written by the Office of the Leading Group for the Belt and Road Initiative, “cooperation under the Belt and Road (B&R) framework is something in which all countries, big or small, rich or poor, can participate on equal footing.” The report mentions that the cooperation “carries forward the spirit of the Silk Road and pursues mutual benefit and complementary gains.”

At the end of 2016, over 100 countries had expressed support and willingness to participate in the B&R Initiative. China has since signed cooperative agreements with 39 countries and international organizations, “covering a broad range of fields that include connectivity, production capacity, investment, economy and trade, finance, science and technology, quality of life and marine issues.”

Connecting Infrastructure and Facilities

One of the most important priorities for China is boosting infrastructural development and enhancing trans-national and cross-regional connectivity. To help nudge this along, China will encourage “large and credit-worthy enterprises to build rail, highway, port, electricity, information and telecommunications facilities in the B&R countries to enhance regional connectivity and bring benefits to local people.”

Once more echoing the spirit of the Silk Road of old, China cares greatly about connecting with regions that have been left behind in recent economical and societal growth. Including them in the new B&R Initiative will lead to a more connected world, in the end, which will help economies grow and the quality of life improve.

Creating a Green Belt and Road

Besides connectivity and economical gains, the Chinese government is committed to making the Belt and Road Initiative as sustainable as possible. Utilizing alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power, China hopes that strengthening eco-environment protection will “help improve mutual understanding and support among governments, enterprises and people of countries along the Belt and Road route.”

According to the 2017 report Guidance on Promoting Green Belt and Road, written by the SCO Environment Information Sharing Platform, one of the five main goals is to “boost green infrastructure and prioritize environment quality” by popularizing energy conversation, green transport, green building and clean energy.

Towards a Green, Smart and Connected World

Despite the ongoing trade wars with the United States after President Trump heavily increased tariffs on Chinese products, President Xi seems adamant on developing an open trade route which will increase cooperation with Eurasian and African countries. The Chinese desire for a more connected world seems all too real.

From Parksen’s perspective, connecting cities and improving the quality and ease of life is incredibly important in this rapidly developing world of ours. It is the duty of us all to ensure people are not left behind simply due to a geographical location.

Trade wars lead only to further inequalities and disadvantages. We should be making moves toward each other, instead of growing apart. Our Green, Smart and Connected City Platform can mean a lot to countries that are looking to upgrade their infrastructure in a sustainable and data-driven way.

Thanks to a successful trip to the Republic of China, and ongoing talks with governmental bodies and companies, we hope to be able to contribute to the creation of the Belt and Road Initiative in whatever way possible. From managing electrical vehicle loading stations to streamlining traffic, with our Green, Smart and Connected platform, the options are plenty.

Let’s come together and connect the world, towards mutual benefit and growth!

Cheers,

Jan Heemskerk
Content Manager at Parksen

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