• The historic Silk Road town of Kashi remains a political and commercial center.

The historic Silk Road town of Kashi remains a political and commercial center. (Photo : Getty Images)

China plans to build a physical connection to Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East by modernizing the ancient Silk Road with a nickname, “One Belt, One Road.”

According to the New York Times, Beijing is planning to remake the path popularly known as the Silk Road into a 21st century version beginning with the addition of locomotives and expansion of roads.

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The action plan for the new program released by the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Commerce, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March states that the "Belt and Road" routes would run through Asia, Europe and Africa.

The Belt and Road Initiative

According to the Xinhua News Agency, the project aims to connect East Asia's "vibrant" economic circle to the "developed European economic circle."

First introduced in Sept. 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Kazakhstan, the Silk Road Economic Belt concept was initially suggested to be built by cooperation between Central Asia and China.

Since then, the number of countries who pledged their help in establishing the New Silk Road has increased to 26 with the addition of the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand and Tajikistan.

In 2013, China has already received a total of $50 billion in investments for the project.

Citing a report from the Financial Times, Forbes said that if it became a success, the New Silk Road would be China's "signature foreign policy initiative" under the administration of Xi.

Mutual Benefit

According to Forbes, Beijing hopes that the establishment of economic development will pacify the riots in western China's Xinjiang Province where tensions are high between the Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs and the Han majority.

However, China's President Xi vows that the New Silk Road would have mutual benefits for countries on either end of the road.

"The Belt and Road Initiative, though initiated by China, is not only about China. I hope people in all countries along the Belt and Road will actually feel the benefit brought by the initiative," the Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying on April 30.

He further noted that while the physical road may be a link for trading, it can also become a bridge that connects friends as China vows to provide "more consideration and care to the interests of other countries" while maintaining its own.

"The ancient silk roads are not just routes of trade, but routes of friendship," Xi added.