The New Silk Road Is Rising
Covering 10,000 miles and 20 countries The New Silk Road Project will research the emergence of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It will be the first attempt to drive along the full length of the world's next great trade route - a nexus of power, culture and commerce that now sits at the heart of China's foreign policy. It will be a journey into the past - these are the steps that Marco Polo, Ban Chao and Genghis Khan trod. It weaves together ancient civilisations and empires. But it will also look towards all our futures: China is in the process of investing over $4 trillion in the BRI, refashioning Eurasia in the process.
Our journey will take two months and visit over two dozen strategic 'Silk Road' hubs. It will begin in London, the far terminus of the BRI, and Rotterdam, China's mooted Atlantic port. It will end in East China - in Yiwu, a new town that houses the world's largest wholesale market which sits at the epicentre of this Initiative. Along the way, we will examine the emerging entrepôts that most Westerners have never heard of: the China-Belarus Great Stone Park in Belarus; the new Georgian port city of Anaklia; the Tehran-Mashhad line which is being rebuilt in Iran by Chinese companies; Aktau, a new strategic port on the Caspian Sea; the massive new road that connects Kazakh Almaty to Kyrgyz Bishkek; and the Khorgos Gateway, the huge new train station where Chinese freight will depart to Central Asia. But this will not just be about monumental infrastructure: it will be about the people whose lives it is changing. Our route will intermingle with diverse lands, monuments and peoples of the historic Silk Road.
Our journey will be an investigation and an exercise to raise further awareness of these era defining developments: we will publish research, make a short film and produce a paper on it for our universities. We are looking for corporate sponsors - most obviously to provide a vehicle capable of mastering the 10,000 mile journey. This is a journey which looks both to the past and to all our futures as a new world order emerges.
The New Silk Road Project - December 2017