Modern Silk Road


In the Series One of Silk Road Initiative, we talked about the ancient silk road and the history. (You can review it here[link].)  In this article, we will talk about the modern silk road. We will discuss how it starts, what are the differences between the ancient one and the modern one, how it progresses so far.


In 2013, the concept of modern silk road was brought by Chinese President Xi Jingpin in two speeches. It was originally called One Belt One Road, which was better known, and was latter officially translated as the Belt and Road Initiative (“BRI”).  Yet, it is also known as The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road.


Thought the concept of BRI was the revival of the ancient Silk Road, there are differences. First, the ancient Silk Road had mainly three routes while the BRI consists of six corridors at least.  Second, the goods traded in the past were silk, jewelry, fur, spices, etc. Nowadays, the BRI focused more on infrastructure investment, construction materials, railway and highway, automobile, real estate, power grid, iron, and steel[1]. Third, compared with the ancient Silk Road, the BRI has broad vision of its aim, according to a blueprint of the BRI released by the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission. The BRI aims to promote the flow of economic factors, efficient allocation of recourses, deep integration of markets, and to strengthen China’s mutually beneficial cooperation with countries in Asia, Europe and Africa and the rest of the world. What’s more, the BRI has more financial supports. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (“AIIB”) was set up to lend money for infrastructure projects of the BRI.[2] Other than the banks, development fund was created to invest in businesses as well, rather than to lend money. The Karot Hydropower Project in Pakistan in 2016 was the first investment project of the Silk Road Fund.[3]


It is said that the BRI projects cover more than 68 countries, equivalent to 65% of the world's population and 40% of the global GDP as of 2017.[4] In addition to the economic cooperation, educational collaboration is built and developed. The University Alliance of the Silk Road was founded to support and promote training, cooperative education, research, policy, cross-cultural understanding and medical services[5].  There are 132 member universities, including Washington University in St. Louis of USA. The alliance extends to law schools as well. The law school alliance was formed with Chinese law schools and several foreign law schools, to promote legal education, research and exchanges of law, and to contribute to the enhancement of the rule of law[6].


A coin has two sides. There are opportunities but there are also challenges and risks. International trade can affect the labor market while benefiting consumers. Different trade policies and governance standards can affect the cooperation among the countries, with concerns of controls.


No matter whether you find the opportunities or the challenges in this modern silk road, always, have the capacity to adapt, be open-minded toward the differences, and embrace the diversity of the real world.



  1. [1] General Office of Leading Group of Advancing the Building of the Belt and Road Initiative (2016). "Belt and Road in Big Data 2016". Beijing: the Commercial Press.
  2. [2] More details about the AIIB, visit
  3. [3] "Commentary: Silk Road Fund's 1st investment makes China's words into practice". Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  4. [4] "What to Know About China's Belt and Road Initiative Summit". Time. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  5. [5] "XJTU Initiated the University Alliance of the New Silk Road (UANSR)". 22 May 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  6. [6] Ma, Lie (12 November 2015). "Chinese and foreign law schools launch New Silk Road alliance". China Daily. Retrieved 18 September 2016.