Global Perspective: China’s implementation of a new trade network is energising the global construction industry
06 May 2019
From 206 BCE to 220 CE, China’s Han dynasty fostered a booming trade industry for silk, a precious commodity in high demand among the elites of the Mediterranean. The Silk Road was the name given to the network of trade routes connecting the East and West at the time. Later, spices and other precious cargo would be traded using the system, fostering not only economic, but also cultural links between Asia and its contiguous continents. As such, the network became the information superhighway of its time as well, transmitting knowledge and expertise across distance and cultures.
Extremely rapid economic expansion in China in the four decades since former leader Deng Xiaoping’s revolutionary reforms in 1978 has seen the
country once again emerge as a global economic powerhouse. It is the largest country by population and is on course to become the world’s biggest
economy in dollar terms in the coming decades.
In recent times, China has flexed its diplomatic muscle across Asia and further afield. Upon assuming leadership in 2013, President Xi Jinping launched the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a means to strategically expand China’s economic footprint and diplomatic leverage, as well as to facilitate the east-west trade on which it depends and boost its access to raw materials. In essence, the BRI is the Silk Road of the 21st century – a network of terrestrial (the “belt”) and maritime (the “road”) trade routes connecting its East Asian hinterland with Western Europe via South-east and Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. In the Pacific, Latin America and Australasia have also been included in the trade network.