World Economy

Arab World Can Renew Ancient Silk Road Ties

Arab World Can Renew Ancient Silk Road TiesArab World Can Renew Ancient Silk Road Ties

The Arab world has long been remembered as one of mankind’s great ancient civilizations, yet the wars and strife that are engulfing the Middle East seem to have submerged its old glory.

Many Arab countries are now trying hard to restore peace and spur development, and by working closer with China, they may have a better chance to find an answer to the problems that have troubled them for decades, Xinhua reported.

The second China-Arab States Expo was successfully concluded Sunday in Yinchuan, capital of Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, one of the many platforms to promote ties between China and Middle East countries.

China and the Arab world began their interactions as early as 2,000 years ago. Back then, traveling along the ancient business route known as the Silk Road, Middle Eastern merchants, riding on the back of camels, carried with them jewelries and spices for sale to China, and brought back Chinese tea, porcelain and silk.

In modern days, the two sides have carried on their traditional friendship, and supported each other in pursuing independence while promoting a more just international political and economic order, and a new global governance in this age of globalization.

Their cooperation has enjoyed a big leap forward in various fields, particularly in economy and trade, with bilateral trade jumping to $238.9 billion in 2013 from $25.5 billion in 2004.

China is now the Arab world’s second largest trading partner, and the largest trading partner for nine Arab countries. Within 10 years, their two-way trade is expected to reach $600 billion.

  Stalled Economic Growth

Unfortunately, the Middle East has long been plagued by bloody conflicts and social upheaval because of religious disputes and western intervention, with millions of people fleeing their homeland.

One other key factor that made the region what it is today is that it has not found for itself a suitable path of development. Many countries have suffered decades of stalled economic growth and social advancement, featuring a high jobless rate, especially among the youth. That has developed as a breeding ground for the terrorism scourging the Middle East.

The Arab world, which still has a high birth rate, has had much of its infrastructure such as railroads, highways and bridges falling apart, and needs to be either upgraded or replaced with new installments. Otherwise, its long-anticipated economic comeback would be very much in doubt.

By working together with China under the framework of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, the economic engines of the Arab world can be reignited. Many Arab countries have also recently chosen to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a China-proposed multilateral financial institution. The decision means that they are confident that the newly-established institution will sustain their efforts to return to the right track bound for peace, stability and prosperity.