12 – A Crucial Issue: Will Europe Really Participate in the New Silk Road?


Making long term forecasts is always difficult. However, at a first glimpse,  the New Silk Road has very good perspectives of being successfully implemented, for a series of simple reasons.

First of all, the core areas of  world civilisations have always been localised alongside the land and maritime Silk Road: China, India, the Middle East, Europe. During all periods of history, communications along the Indian Sea and in Central Asia have played a focal role, as shown, for instance, in the books “The Silk Roads” of Peter Frankopan, China’s One Belt One Road, of Bal Kishan Sharma and Nivedita Das Kundu, “La via della Seta” of Liu Xinru and “La Via della Seta” of Franco Cardini and Alessandro Vanoli. The remnants of sophisticated neolitic settlements, Roman, Persian and Chinese roads, of Phoenician and Greek ports, of Persian and Macedonian cities, of Buddhist and Taoist temples, of  Synagogues, Churches and Mosques, of Chinese and Japanese palaces, show still now how much crowded and busy these regions have been since the earliest antiquity. Even modern history, albeit dominated by European and American imperialisms, has witnessed an intense movement of goods, capitals and persons in Asia: in the Anglo-Indian Empire, in Chinese “concessions”, in Soviet Asia… As a consequence, there is no reason why these areas are not going to flourish again also in the future.

Besides that, the contemporary development of China has no precedents in recent history. After having been destroyed during  three decades of foreign occupation and of civil wars, China has continued to grow, irrespective of changing political trends and world economic climates, at a pace much faster than any other country in the world, being presently, at the same time, the most populated  country of the world and its major economic power.

There are other forums which are developing in parallel with the new Silk Road, the BRICS Plus, which includes, to a large extent, the same countries, but also Brazil, Mexico and Ghana; the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and  the Eurasian Community.

A problem could arise from the coexistence of too many similar initiatives. However, the main problem is represented by Europe, which could constitute a fundamental partner for China. Unfortunately, Europe, contrary to China, in the 70 years which have followed World War II, has not yet been able to make up its mind as to which is its identity, and as to its projects for the future.  It is true that all European countries have adhered, in a way or another, to the project, but only if Europe will participate wholeheartedly and as a single player, there could be tangible results for it.

In any case, also China, which is the main sponsor of the Initiative, should take care to coordinate it carefully with the BRICS Plus, with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and with the Eurasian Community in order to give a logic to the whole system.

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