The Silk Road 23 June 2017 19 3254
In its heyday, the ancient Silk Road was Eurasia’s most important trade route, connecting two rich continents to facilitate trade and cultural exchange. Modern-day China has seen near constant economic growth. It boasts of several record figures, including the highest number of skyscrapers and the longest railroads. Five years ago, the government announced a new plan, “One Belt, One Road”, an initiative to revive the Silk Road. The strategy seeks to help China play a bigger role in global affairs through developing an infrastructure that will unite the countries of the two continents under a cohesive economic area.
Many ancient Chinese cities that were once outposts along the Silk Road, desert oases or transport hubs are now rapidly transforming themselves into megacities, so that they can, once again, service and profit from the trade route. New businesses are opening, facilitated by the development of a reliable transport system, which in turn brings greater tourist flow. Some cities are also grated the status of special economic area, offering attractive tax incentives to foreign investors.
We visit two very different cities; Lanchjou and Urumchi, united by the Silk Road’s history. Both are experiencing rapid development. We meet businessmen who tell us how it feels to watch their home towns transform into economically and politically significant conurbations and how it inspires them to aim for international markets and seek new outlets for their businesses to grow.
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