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What is the “Silk Road” and is it a Myth?



In history books, the Silk Road refers to a network of trade routes that connected China to the Middle East and Europe. These routes date back to the second century and were actively used through the 15th century. Interestingly, the term Silk Road wasn’t coined until the 19th century, and many argue that the term is a misleading way to describe previous trade. While there is ongoing debate about what type of goods were traded and which regions were part of these routes, it’s undisputed that over two thousand years ago, critical trade routes connected China and Europe, having a lasting impact on culture, commerce, and trade.

The New Silk Road


In 2013, China’s President, Xi Jinping, proposed a new silk road project. This proposal went through multiple iterations before the official project, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), was adopted. The BRI seeks to revive ancient trade networks via modern railways, ports, highways, pipelines, and power grids.

Critics of the project argue that it’s based on revisionist history, as it aims to create routes in areas where there’s no evidence of original silk road networks, such as a southern route, a maritime route, and an arctic route. Despite ongoing controversy and criticism, China’s “project of the century” is actively underway. It’s estimated that by 2027 BRI spending will total $1.3 trillion. Already over 100 nations have committed to being part of the project and have begun building networks and infrastructure to support the project including roads, power plants, and high-speed railways.

Our Role


As an increasing number of resources are being used to connect China to the west, more businesses are looking for alternative ways to further promote trade between the east and the west. With offices in China and the Netherlands, ClearFreight is perfectly positioned to offer this connection and to give customers an opportunity to further develop trade partnerships. Contact us to learn more about how your business can benefit from our presence and experience in Asia and Europe.

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