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China’s Belt and Road of Science

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China’s Belt and Road of Science

BRI is also about building knowledge, not just things

Aftab Abbasi

The ancient silk routes were not for trade only, they boosted flow of knowledge as well … Through these routes, Buddhism, Islam and Arab astronomy, calendar and medicine found their way to China, while China’s four great inventions and silkworm breeding spread to other parts of the world. More importantly, the exchange of goods and know-how spurred new ideas. For example, Buddhism originated in India, blossomed in China and was enriched in Southeast Asia. Confucianism, which was born in China, gained appreciation by European thinkers such as Leibniz and Voltaire. Herein lies the appeal of mutual learning.

(Excerpt from President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum, 14th May 2017)

91tw-OzSEkLIn September 2013, during a state visit to Kazakhstan, President Xi Jinping announced the creation of an ‘economic belt along the Silk Road’, which would ‘forge closer economic ties, deepen cooperation and expand development space in the Eurasian region’. A month later, this was followed by a proposal in an address to Indonesia’s People’s Consultative Assembly for a ‘Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century’ that would ‘bring tangible benefits to neighbours along the route, and be a new driving force for the prosperity of the entire East Asian region’. These two proposals soon gave way to the establishment of the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-century Maritime Silk Road’, or ‘The Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) as it is more commonly referred to. Since its proposal, the Initiative has grown in scope and ambition, moving beyond the more rigid definition of a collection of geographical belts and roads and is evolving into the guiding principle behind China’s foreign policy as a whole. It can be seen as an international strategy that calls for collaborative ties between governments, business and non-governmental organisations around the world in areas such as transportation, trade, logistics, culture, science and education.


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