China wants to breathe life back into the Silk Road
SENIOR CHINESE OFFICIALS have expressed China’s interest in reviving the southern part of the ancient Silk Road, which ran through Myanmar and then extended to India, Bangladesh and even West Asia.
And it will begin with the southwestern city of Dali in Yunnan Province.
According to a The Statesman report, the country hopes to revive the centuries-old road with South Asia to promote trade and people-to-people exchanges with India and other South Asian countries by first looking at the tourism potential of Dali.
In speaking about their plans to a visiting group of journalists from India, the officials noted that Dali, as the only prefecture of Bai ethnic community in China, has had close and historical links with the people of India because of the silk route.
In fact, of the 1,858,063 Bai people in China, 80 percent live in concentrated communities in the Dali while the rest are scattered in Xichang and Bijie in neighboring Sichuan and Guizhou provinces respectively.
The officials added that China wanted Dali to again become the “bridge head” with India and South Asia.
According to ancient literature, Dali was a gateway to the Silk Road in Southwestern China. The Silk Road refers to both terrestrial and maritime routes connecting Asia with the Middle East and southern Europe.
The prosperous network of trade routes linked the East and West of the ancient world in commerce from as early as 130 BCE. It was also key to cultural interaction between the regions for centuries until it closed in 1453 CE.
It may have gotten its name from the lucrative trade silk carried out along its length way back when, but the road was also responsible for transporting everyday goods such as textile, tea, dyes, rice, paper, perfumes, medicine, spices, and fruits.
Let’s not forget the not-so-everyday but equally important trade products such as weapons, armor, and gunpowder.
The Chinese took such great interest in the safety of their trade products that they extended the Great Wall of China to ensure the protection of the Silk Road.
It remained a major trade network until explorers started taking to the sea and charting new water routes to replace over-land trade.
Since then, there has been nothing left of the road except a vast desert and dilapidated remains.
In June 2014, Unesco designated the Chang’an-Tianshan corridor of the Silk Road as a World Heritage Site.
Meanwhile, Dali Tourism director Xi Ling trusts Dali could be an attractive destination for Indian tourists due to its historical links and geographical proximity with India.
He added the local authorities were also applying to the Chinese government to declare the Dali Airport as an international airport.
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Source: Travels travelwireasia.com