The ancient Silk Road was the vast network of trade routes that linked merchants and their goods from east and west thousands of years ago. Today, China is on track with a new "Belt and Road" initiative, offering the potential for opportunities without borders.
It's also China's solution for defending globalization and rejuvenating the global economy. Though still in a preliminary stage, and with huge challenges ahead, the initiative has been gradually winning support globally.
What is the Belt and Road?
The ancient Silk Road, some 2000 years ago, ran all the way from central China to central Asia, and reached the Mediterranean in Europe, spanning over 7,000 kilometers. The powerful link created cultural connections as well as historical prosperity.
Today, globalization is facing a challenge. China is counting on the ancient wisdom of interconnectivity to rise to such a challenge and defend against protectionism.
In September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan. For the first time, he proposed an initiative he called the Silk Road Economic Belt.
A month later, President Xi addressed the Indonesian Parliament. He said Southeast Asia had in ancient times occupied a key position on another major trade route, the Maritime Silk Road.
The Belt and Road Initiative is the combination of a land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and a sea-based 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
It aims to connect trade routes throughout Asia, Africa and Europe, to the benefit of billions of people across the world, and calls for some of the most comprehensive development projects in human history.
Meanwhile, the world's North-South divide is widening, interregional connectivity is stagnating, and in developing countries, industrialization is faltering due to a lack of funding and technology.
China has much to offer with its competitive industries and robust capacity. The initiative will help Chinese equipment and technologies find a place on other markets, and will also open China to resources from partner countries.
South - South and North - South cooperation will gain new momentum, with trade, transport and logistical infrastructure in Europe and Asia set to improve amid accelerated industrialization in developing countries.
The ancient Silk Road keeps alive memories of economic and cultural exchanges between the civilizations of the East and West. With the 21st century's Belt and Road Initiative, many are hoping that a new day is dawning.