Do you remember reading about the Silk Road in geography in the fifth or sixth grade? The Silk Road was not an imaginary road. It was real, even though my imagination flowed to camels loaded with goods from China. It was a trade route that connected East to West, the Eastern hemisphere to the Western hemisphere. To be sure, there were different routes, but it was all about trade.
Later in history, we began to connect religion, war and culture to those traveling or living along the Silk Road. Really fascinating. And, by the way, we're going back to 200 BC and even further. So, the Silk Road isn't new. It's been around for at least 2,000 years.
Further, the Silk Road was a long road, thousands of miles and went through so many different countries: from China to India to Iran and on to Europe. From Iran down to Egypt and down as far south to the "horn of Africa." Of course, I was reminded of this during my Holy Land trip, but certainly this isn't why I'm starting this column with an introduction to the Silk Road.
This column is about China's BRI Belt and Road Initiative. How many of you are aware of this? It is hard not to stray into China's ulterior motive. But, really, I'm interested in the environmental consequences of this gigantic project and have interrupted my normal column schedule to bring this to your attention. Let me explain.
Fast forward from 200 BC 2,000 plus years to 2013 when China's President, Xi Jinping, announced a plan to connect Asia, Africa and Europe to China. Really, it's as simple as that. The Belt and Road, or "Yi Dai Yi Lu," is a global development strategy involving infrastructure development and investment in more than 70 countries. Belt refers to the overland routes for ROA and rail transportation, called the "Silk Road Economic Belt," whereas Road refers to the sea routes, or the 21st century maritime silk road.
The Chinese government calls this initiative a "bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future." Since I've traveled in many of these connective environments, I'm not sure I would agree with their definition (and let me be clear about this--I have many Chinese friends, and this column is not a reflection on those friendships. This is my interpretation of what I believe is the ultimate goal of the Xi Jinping China in the BRI Project).
The objectives of the BRI Project that Xi Jinping has, per Wikipedia, are:
To construct a unified large market and make full use of both international and...