Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing
20 April 2017
China will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing from 14 to 15 May 2017, which aims to discuss ways to boost cooperation, build cooperation platforms and share cooperation outcomes. The Forum will also explore ways to address problems facing global and regional economy, create fresh energy for pursuing interconnected development and make the Belt and Road Initiative deliver greater benefits to the people of all countries.
More than two millennia ago the diligent and courageous people of Eurasia explored and opened up several routes of trade and cultural exchanges that linked the major civilizations of Asia, Europe and Africa, collectively called the Silk Road by later generations.
For thousands of years, the Silk Road Spirit - "peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit" - has been passed from generation to generation, promoted the progress of human civilization, and contributed greatly to the prosperity and development of the countries along the Silk Road. Symbolizing communication and cooperation between the East and the West, the Silk Road Spirit is a historic and cultural heritage shared by all countries around the world.
In the 21st century, a new era marked by the theme of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, it is all the more important for us to carry on the Silk Road Spirit in face of the weak recovery of the global economy, and complex international and regional situations.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Central Asia and Southeast Asia in September and October of 2013, he raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, which have attracted close attention from all over the world. At the China-ASEAN Expo in 2013, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasized the need to build the Maritime Silk Road oriented towards ASEAN, and to create strategic propellers for hinterland development.
Accelerating the building of the Belt and Road can help promote the economic prosperity of the countries along the Belt and Road and regional economic cooperation, strengthen exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations, and promote world peace and development. It is a great undertaking that will benefit people around the world.
History of the Silk Road
The Silk Road was an international passage with historical significance. It is not only an important transportation route connecting the ancient world geographically, but also a bond that integrated the old Chinese, Indian, Persian, Arabian, ancient Greek and Roman cultures and promoted the exchanges between the Western and Eastern civilizations.
The term Silk Road was not commonly used until it was coined by German Geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen in 1877. The Silk Road in a narrow sense refers to an ancient overland trade route formed in the Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD). This route stretched about 4,350 miles from Chang'an (now Xi’an, a city located in central-northwest China) to western China, central Asia, and even to Europe. In a general sense, the Silk Road is known as a series of routes that connected Asia, Europe and Africa, both through land and the sea.
Before Han Dynasty
(Before 202BC) Small-scale business sprouted between central and western China, trading bronze ware, lacquer ware, and jade. The South China Sea Route, one route of the maritime Silk Road, was first used in the Qin Dynasty (221BC-207BC) and Han Dynasty.
Western Han Dynasty (202BC-9AD) Zhang Qian who served as an imperial envoy was twice sent to the Western Regions in China, forming the initial route, which enabled silk to spread and become popular.
Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220) In 73AD, General Ban Chao was sent by the emperor to western China and later his assistant extended this route to the Persian Gulf. In 166AD, the Roman Empire sent an envoy to China. Then ties with the Europe were formed through this road.
Sui and Tang Dynasty (581 – 907) The route developed into three branches, trading silk, porcelain, and tea. It entered the golden age, together with the maritime route, which even reached Japan. Chinese monk Xuan Zang respectively visited India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and dozens of other countries and districts and did further his study of Buddhism.
(1271 - 1368) Italian merchant traveler Marco Polo reached China and introduced the prosperity of this trade route to the whole world through his book.
(1368-1644) Chinese Navigator Zheng He visited more than 30 countries and regions on the coast of the West Pacific and the Indian Ocean. His seven voyages strengthened the friendship between China and the Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and East African countries, and conducted unprecedented economic and cultural exchanges.