China: the new Silk Road

China: the new Silk Road

Elisa Maria Giannetto
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With billionaire investments, China is preparing to retrace the ways of the past. Her ambition is to become the leader of world globalization

Once a trade route connecting the Chinese and the Roman Empire, the Silk Road has returned to being at the center of China's strategic interests. This is demonstrated by the Forum on international cooperation, Belt and Road, held yesterday and today in Beijing, which brought together 29 leaders from countries interested in the project: From Putin to Erdogan, from Gentiloni to UN Secretary General Guterres. The encounter was not only a diplomatic initiative, but a real road show of the new 'soft power’ of the Chinese President, who on January 17 in Davos gave a new course to foreign policy by pronouncing a speech defending globalization. The undertaking aims to integrate Asia and Europe by building six transport corridors across land and sea, via which goods, technology, culture, and above all energy will flow. China intends to promote the project through bilateral relations and existing multilateral international bodies (Aseam, Sco, 16+1, Apec, Asean +). In actual fact the Silk Road Economic Belts aim to connect China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean via Central and Western Asia, as well as connect the country with Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. Four of the six corridors are by land: The new Eurasian Land Bridge, a project to expand rail links between East Asia and Europe; and three connecting belts: China, Mongolia and Russia; China, Central Asia and Western Asia; China and the Indochinese Peninsula. "These are projects on which to invest joint financial resources with the countries concerned, exploiting international trade routes and industrial parks as cooperation platforms," ​​says the Global Times, one of the most influential Chinese tabloids, published by the People's Daily, the press organ of the Chinese Communist Party. But behind these projects lies China’s true ambition: become the leader of world globalization, in place of the United States.