Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Silk roads of the twenty-first century: the cultural dimension

By Rosita Dellios

Much has been written about China’s grand project of the twenty-first century, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road—or the Belt and Road Initiative. It is set to lift living standards through the provision of infrastructure and better connectivity where these are lacking. While economic resources are enumerated, and the maps of roads and corridors have been drafted, the cultural dimension is understudied. Beijing has not helped in this regard. Apart from vague slogans like ‘win–win cooperation’, ‘mutual respect’ and ‘community of common destiny’, there has been no concerted effort to showcase China’s thought culture that is eminently suited to precisely this type of venture. If collaboration, even more than connectivity, is the necessary glue for bringing the regions of the Belt and Road together, then China needs to heed the advice of its own great philosophers.

(Photo: Splette on Wikimedia Commons)

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