Hello my name is Steve Roddy.
I teach in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages
at the University of San Francisco.
Today, I'm going to be talking about the Belt Road Initiative,
BRI, or what's also called,
the One Belt One Road Initiative,
or in Chinese [speaking Chinese].
The inspiration for this name came from the word silk road,
which sounds like a very ancient term,
but in fact it was an invention of a German aristocrat,
Baron von Richthofen in the mid-19th century.
This name conjures up images of caravans traversing the deserts of Central Asia
during the Tang Dynasty, bearing silk, porcelain,
and other luxury Chinese goods.
However, Chinese Vision of the Overland Route,
encompasses several main tramps,
the traditional one that crosses Central Asia,
but also another one,
a northern one, that starts in Eastern Siberia,
goes across northern China, Mongolia,
and the Eurasian steps to Moscow,
Kiev, Berlin, and ends in London.
There is yet another one, a third route, that starts in Southern China,
winds through Burma, Thailand,
and Malaysia, and ends in Singapore.
In fact, the most significant historical precedent to the BRI is the so-called Tea Route,
that developed after the Treaty of Kyakhta,
concluded between Russia and China, in 1727.
The ancient Silk Route had a much smaller economic impact on either China or Europe
than did the trade between Russia and China
in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Tea, porcelain, silk, and other luxury goods
were exchanged for fur, hides, meat, timber, and other raw materials.
On the Chinese side,
the firm [speaking Chinese] that managed much of this commerce,
had a capitalisation almost equal to
the entire land tax revenues of the Ching Empirechinese in the late 19th century.