The Belt and Road Initiative and Middle Eastern Politics: Challenges Ahead


Insight Turkey Volume 19 No. 3, 2017

Announced by the Republic of China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative generated considerable interest as the project is thought to have far reaching economic, political and cultural consequences. The Silk Road is an ancient trade route crossing three continents that reminds us globalization is not a totally new, modern phenomenon and that trade has connected peoples, regions and countries for hundreds of years. In fact, the activities and transactions in and around the Silk Road routes of past centuries represent an earlier version of globalization. Stretching from China and India all the way through Persia, Mesopotamia, the Middle East and Anatolia to Europe, the world enjoyed considerable economic and cultural exchanges for centuries.

The imperial wars for regional and global hegemony and emergence of nation states slowed down the forces of globalization as national borders became sine qua non for security especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, with the rise of communication technologies, popular culture, free trade and population movements, the process of globalization marked the second half of the previous century. Today we are witnessing a stronger wave of globalization on a wider and larger scale because of ever increasing trade volume, foreign investments, rising number of people traveling all around the globe –all enabled by much faster communication facilitated by new technologies and the media. There is no doubt that if the Belt and Road Initiative achieves its objectives, globalization will take a new shape and content bringing nations and cultures closer based on common interests.

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