How one key trade port on the Maritime Silk Road changes the world

Updated 2017-04-19 11:00:53 Xinhua

Merchant Vessel (M.V.) COSCO Netherlands left Ningbo Zhoushan Port in Zhejiang Province in eastern China on Tuesday afternoon continuing its roughly 40-day journey from China to Europe to retrace the Maritime Silk Road, an ancient trade maritime route linking China with the rest of the world.

The vessel began its journey on Sunday from Shanghai to relive the old-time trade route. China proposed the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in 2013, which is not only a valuable spiritual treasure to all of humanity but also a road of dialogue for Chinese civilization with the world.

On the backdrop of surging counter-globalization in the world today, retracing the memory about that history that different countries, regions and peoples along the route shared is a global call for peaceful intercultural ties.

LOOKING BACK IN NINGBO'S HISTORY

Leaving Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai, one of the world's largest cargo ports, M.V. COSCO arrived at the Ningbo Zhoushan Port late on Monday afternoon.

Ningbo, called Mingzhou during China's Tang and Song Dynasties, was one of the Chinese coastal cities linked with the ancient Maritime Silk Road. Nowadays, traces of the Maritime Silk Road relics still can be found in Ningbo, including the Yongfeng warehouse, a key official depot from the Southern Song Dynasty through to the Ming.

On the site of Yongfeng, large quantities of cultural relics had been found, like famous porcelain products from the Song and Yuan Dynasties, which prove that Ningbo was a significant trading port on the thriving Maritime Silk Road in ancient China.

Located in the middle of China's long coastline, Ningbo possesses rare geographical advantages and serves as a unique port. The city has a special position in China's history engagement with the world as the estuary of the Grand Canal of China and also the port of departure on the Maritime Silk Road in ancient China.

China's Grand Canal was officially inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2014, which consists of three sections -- Beijing-Hangzhou Canal, the Sui and Tang Dynasties Canal, and East Zhejiang Canal which refers to the section from Hangzhou to Ningbo.

It is because of Ningbo's unique geographical advantages that cargo and people could be transported to Japan and the Korean peninsula through the Zhoushan Islands in the east, and reach anywhere in the world through ports in Quanzhou and Guangzhou in South China, Liu Hengwu, a professor at Ningbo University, told Xinhua.

Ningbo was an important "window" for Chinese civilization, and it was irreplaceable in the trade and cross-cultural exchange in ancient East Asia, Liu said.

Traditionally, it it believed that the ancient Maritime Silk Road came into being in the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C.- 220 A.D.), grew up in the Three Kingdoms Period and the Sui Dynasty (220 - 618 A.D.), flourished in the Tang and Song Dynasties (618 - 1279 A.D.), and fell into decline in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 - 1911 A.D.).

CIVILIZATION EXCHANGES ACROSS OCEANS

From China to East Asia, Southeast Asia and Europe, the ever-extending Maritime Silk Road brought business and trade convenience to the countries and peoples along its route, while enriching the culture of local societies.

A huge number of well-known cultural sites and examples of engagement with foreign societies are preserved in Ningbo today, Liu said. Among these are the Tiantong Temple, Asoka Temple, Samo Pagoda, the Site of the Goryeo Embassy, and the Site of the Yongfeng Warehouse, among others.

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