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China flags train to Madrid to revive Silk Route

An 82-wagon cargo train has left for Madrid from the Chinese city of Yiwu, signaling the feverish efforts by China and Russia, to revive the ancient Silk Route, and shift the balance of power in Eurasia towards the East.

The train, which began its journey on Tuesday, will travel a distance off 10,000 kilometers, 741 kilometers more than the trans-Siberian railway, the longest so far.

Starting from Yiwu, a major trading hub 300 kilometers south of Shanghai, the train will cross Altaw pass in China’s Xinjiang province, before entering Kazakhstan. It will then cover five other countries — Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France — before completing its mammoth 21-day journey in the Spanish capital.

The train from China is run by Trans-Eurasia Logistics, a joint venture of Germany’s Deutsche Bahn AG and the Russian Railways (RZD).

It symbolises the growing transportation links among Beijing, Moscow and Berlin to revive the Silk Route — a land corridor that, in its heyday, was at the heart of trade between Asia and Europe.

It also illustrates President Xi Jinping’s vision, unveiled last year in Kazakhstan, to establish an “economic belt” along the Silk Road, which passes through the Central Asia before heading for Europe. The Chinese hope that the trans-Eurasian project would impact three billion people, across 40 countries once it is completed.

The dream of an economic belt demands that a string of growth clusters is established along the New Silk Road. One such economic hub within China is Chongqing—a major junction along the Eurasian corridor.

Chongqing's Liangjiang New Area—a 1200 square kilometer zone—home to big brands, such as Hewlett Packard, and Iveco — is based on Shanghai’s Pudong and Tianjin’s Binhai New Area model. An intricate

rail and road network that connects it with west and middle China has enabled Chongqing to emerge as the growth locomotive for the entire delta area of the Yangtze river, which flows to the south, and is a major trade artery.

The new Eurasian rail links feed directly into Chongqing’s growing international profile. In 2011 the train between Chongqing and Germany’s Duisburg in the Ruhr industrial area, was flagged, accelerating the Yangtze Delta’s integration with the global economy.

Typically the train from Chongqing, which has now been extended on either end to Madrid and Yiwu, ferries computers and vehicle parts, reflecting the city’s status as a major automobile and Information Technology center.

Chongqing’s links with Russia are also set for consolidation in tune with growing ties between Moscow and Beijing. Outbound cargo from the city to Rusia is soon likely to include helicopter parts and aero-engines, produced in a dedicated Sino-Russian industrial park in the Liangjiang New Area.

Russia and China are bonding strongly, following the “Asia Pivot,” led by the United States. China interprets the military doctrine marshaled by President Barack Obama as an expression of a Washington-led policy to contain China’s rise. The U.S. military shift towards the Pacific is triggering the accumulation of troops along

China’s periphery, chiefly in Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines—countries which are strongly allied to Washington.

In their riposte, China and Russia have signed mega-energy deals, implanting structural elements to build their growing alliance. The two countries are now discussing a new collective security arrangement.

President Xi’s “economic belt” initiative dovetails with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for "a new wave of industrialisation across the European continent," well integrated with Moscow. He has advocated “the creation of a harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok". Analysts say that these symbiotic moves with China, if realised, can shift the center of gravity of Eurasia’s geopolitics towards Moscow and Beijing.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 4:50:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/china-flags-train-to-madrid-to-revive-silk-route/article6627220.ece

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