The ‘new’ Silk Route

A new treaty has been signed by 23 nations at a UN meeting to create multiple landlinks between Khabarovsk and Tokyo in Asia and and spanning 140 000km of roads before arriving in St Petersburg, Finland, and the old western terminus Istanbul BBC World News reported today the agreement signed in Shanghai would alleviate the isolation in landlocked countries, including Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal and Uzbekistan, renewing the Silk Route, which provided trans-asia trade and communication for millennia.

The project was first proposed in 1959, but was delayed by the cold war. Economist for the UN Economic and Social Commission Raj Kumar said today,

“We see the importance of constructing transport linkage within the region in order to distribute development through all countries, not only to the developed ones,” Raj Kumar, an economist for the Economic and Social Commission, said in a statement.

The highway plan is part of a broader project to build up all transport links in the region.

Most of the roads already exist but require upgrading to an international standard – much like the United States in the early 1900s, when smaller roads were cobbled together and improved to form the federal highways U.S. 1 and Route 66. Signs would be unified and border facilities improved to handle an expected increase in traffic.

While the project appears to have altruistic benefits for smaller economies, it also provides direct access to remote regions by increasingly dominant regional and world powers. In the same way that both Tibet and Xinjiang are currently having their cultures obliterated and absorbed through mass-migration of Han Chinese into the provinces, other regions with a weaker hold on their national sovereignty are in danger of suffering the same fate, as open-season on their natural resources is declared.