Beginning in the days of Marco Polo, a lucrative trade route from China stretched over desert and mountain through the Middle East and on into Europe and Africa.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has plans to revive that trade route. But in a way that makes sense to 21st century ecomonics.
The Belt and Road Initiative
The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road (a.k.a. One Belt, One Road, a.k.a. The Belt and Road Initiative) is an infrastructure and development plan pitched more than three years ago by Xi. (Strangely, the “road” is a sea route and the “belt” is on land.)
China has now pledged to spend hundreds of billions of dollars building ports, railways, airports and power plants not just across the Eurasian landmass, but in nearly every corner of the world.
Its pay off won't come for decades
“China is putting a lot of capital and institutional effort behind the Belt and Road. But it’s not going to reshape Asia in a few years,” said Michael Kovrig, the International Crisis Group's senior adviser for Northeast Asia. “It will take a couple of decades to assess the impact, if China sticks with it.”