How China is trying to remake the world

by Richard Palmer
(United States)

China aims to pour $1 trillion into an ambitious project to remake the world. Its goal is a revolution in trade, the likes of which the world has seldom seen. It seeks ultimately to make the Chinese culture and language as dominant and widespread as the English language is today.

In a project more ambitious than even the $120 billion (in today’s money) Marshall Plan, China aims to restore trade routes between Europe and the East, collectively known as the Silk Road. This would transform not only the global economy but also global power. The decline of the Silk Road was one of the most important events in history. In rebuilding it, China aims to forge a new economic system.

China is building a “geo-economic empire.” “China’s mammoth initiative … appears as the creation of a new world order that challenges the existing status quo of the United States-dominated Western global order,” wrote Amrita Jash, editor in chief at IndraStra Global and senior research fellow at the Center for East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (International Affairs Forum, Winter 2016).

Once “it was possible to sail from Southampton, London or Liverpool to the other side of the world without leaving British territory,” writes Peter Frankopan, a senior fellow at Oxford University, in his book The Silk Roads: A New History of the World. “Today, it is the Chinese who can do something similar.”

This is far from a niche subject of trade policy. It is about global domination.

Columbus’s Revolution

For thousands of years, flourishing trade routes linked Europe and the East. Over 2,600 years ago, silver from Egypt, cedar from Lebanon, ivory from India and turquoise from Khwarezm near the Aral Sea all traveled along Persian roads—roads that were the envy of surrounding nations. Hundreds of years before that, some of the oldest empires known to history—ancient Egypt, the Akkadian Empire and the Indus Valley civilization—almost certainly had some trade with each other through this region.

Roman coins have been found as far away as China and Korea. Pliny the Elder complained that Rome spent 100 million sesterces a year on goods from the East. “This astonishing sum represented nearly half the annual mint output of the empire, and more than 10 percent of its annual budget,” writes Frankopan. “But remarkably, it does not appear to have been wildly exaggerated.”

This enormous economic exchange continued for centuries. Various Persian empires, Muslim empires, the Mongols, Tamerlane and the Ottomans grew rich from this trade. So did the Vikings, and then Venice and other city-states. Control of trade routes between Europe and China meant wealth and power. Crusaders preferred to conquer cities that controlled trade with the East even more than they cared about conquering Jerusalem. The flow of money and goods—and people—was vast: Frankopan estimates that around A.D. 1000, at least half a million slaves were traded along these roads annually.

For a huge portion of history, the Middle East and Central Asia housed the world’s greatest empires.

Then came the Age of Exploration.

Read more...https://www.thetrumpet.com/article/14180.18.189.0/economy/trade/all-roads-lead-to-beijing

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