In ancient times the overland trade route between Europe and China was called “the Silk Road.” It became outdated when sea- and air-travel made travel and transportation of goods much easier and safer. However, China is in the process of re-establishing a new Silk Road transportation system between Europe and China.
The need for such a route is obvious. China’s growing militarism has united many of its Pacific Rim neighbors in a de-facto, anti-Chinese alliance which is backed by the military forces of the USA. In any conflict, Chinese merchant ships might find it impossible to safely traverse the maritime trade routes across any Pacific Ocean outlet between China and its trading partners. Chinese trade could be embargoed from Pacific Ocean routes, and China needs a steady supply of oil, commodities and raw materials. Realizing this fact, China needs a new, and more secure, trade route.
The first link, an excellent analysis of this issue by Stratfor, details China’s efforts to build an overland trade route from China to Europe. It reports that a Chinese-European rail link is already operating between China and Hamburg, Germany. There are many political and geographical obstacles to China’s expansion of this overland route, which is intended to eventually include “road, rail and pipeline systems.” Given China’s huge reserve of cash, China should be able to use that cash to induce a lot of cooperation in the development of this new overland trade route between China and Europe. As this transportation corridor expands, China may even charge transit fees for other Asian nations to use this route for their trade goods instead of using the long maritime routes between the Orient and Europe. If the Suez Canal ever becomes untenable due to terrorism or conflict, this overland trade route will look more attractive to all parties. Indeed, the economics are obvious. The link notes that while it takes about five weeks to transport Chinese goods to Europe via seaborne traffic, it takes only 21 days to reach Europe by this already-operational railway line between China and Germany.
This overland trade route will begin in western China and traverse the central European “-stan” nations on its way to Europe. This new “Silk Road” will have to pass through nations that used to be part of the Soviet Union, but since Russia is a strategic ally of China and many Central Asian nations are dominated by Russia as part of Russia’s “Near Abroad” region, transit rights and fees through those nations should be easily negotiated. The nations through which these transit corridors will pass will obviously derive transit fees and other income from having these roads, pipelines and railways pass through their land so it will financially benefit them as well. The part of the new overland “Silk Route” that passes through Russia will be hosted and protected easily by Russia.
China is also, I believe, taking another step to ensure that it has easy transit access to Europe on this new Silk Road. It will logically have to travel through the Ukraine, a nation which used to be part of the Soviet Union but which does not always march in lockstep with Russia. China is now buying up vast swaths of land in the Ukraine and the stated purpose for doing so is to grow foodstuffs for China to be sent eastward to China along this new Silk Road (second link). However, another purpose for these major purchases of Ukrainian land by China may be to guarantee that China will own enough contiguous land through the Ukraine to complete the new Silk Road trade corridor whether the Ukraine agrees to it or not. If China owns the land, it will build the road, rail and pipeline corridors on Chinese-owned land within the Ukraine and will not bother much to ask permission. Chinese cash will surely remove any obstacles that might develop.
A spur off the new Silk Road is already well underway. A southern spur off the Silk Road will connect western China with its newly-built port in Gwadar, Pakistan which offers (and threatens) maritime access to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. Pakistan is an ally of China so that is a secure connection for China as well.
Indeed, in a future military crisis or war, China can already move a large number of soldiers, war material and warplanes into the port at Gwadar, Pakistan by moving them from China directly through Pakistan. This would largely isolate India from any land-based allies so India would be dependent on maritime routes for help from its allies. In any future war, the finished trans-Asian corridor of roads, railways and pipelines (with airports along the way no doubt) could easily be used to quickly transport large numbers of Chinese soldiers, armored vehicles and warplanes westward toward Europe as well.
While this new overland, trans-Asian transport corridor will be used for civilian trade purposes at first, China is surely making sure that it is built in such a way that it can quickly be converted to military use whenever China wishes to do so. I have little doubt that this new transit corridor will be used by China and Russia when their Gog-Magog alliance launches its surprise attack against the USA, Europe and their allies..as prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39 over 2500 years ago.
NOTE: “China’s Ambitions in Xinjiang and Central Asia: Part 1 (the first link) is republished with permission of Stratfor.”