President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government have committed over $16 billion towards building the required infrastructure to recreate the centuries-old trade route stretching from China to the Mediterranean. The new ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, a high-speed train line running through Eurasia, Iran and Turkey before finishing in Western Europe, is one of two large-scale, global trading projects China is aiming to create, as well as the ‘Maritime Silk Road’, which will run via Southeast Asia, India, and Kenya, before finishing in the Mediterranean.
President Xi first annouced the projects in September 2013 whilst visiting Kazakhstan – one country that will hope to benefit economically from the project. The latest route plans reveal exactly what the Chinese government has in mind. The Silk Road Economic Belt would link Xi’an in central China with major cities including Tehran, Istanbul, and Moscow, before reaching Rotterdam, its furthest-most Western point.
The Silk Road Economic Belt will be welcome news in Eurasian countries such as Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, who would find themselves connected to wealthy markets in Western Europe like never before, and would provide a further boost to their economies. Many cities and regions along the Maritime Silk Road can also expect investment and construction, as China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative takes hold, aiming to build roads, railways, ports and airports across Central Asia and South Asia.
Official estimates for the overall economic impact for the two projects reach as high as $21.1 trillion upon completion.