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UPDATED: June 19, 2014 NO. 23 JUNE 5, 2014
A Treasure Map
Forum held in Fuzhou discusses the revival of the ancient maritime Silk Road
By Yu Lintao

SHARED VISION: People from East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia visit the exhibition hall of the 16th Cross-Straits Fair for Economy and Trade in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, on May 18. Building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was a theme of this year's fair (LIN SHANCHUAN)

In ancient China, merchants shipped porcelain, tea, silk and other fine and precious commodities from southeast coastal ports to far-flung destinations in Southeast Asia, Europe and even Africa along the maritime Silk Road. In the same region today, containers piled high with electronic devices, fashionable clothing and household articles lie awaiting delivery to points around the globe. Against the backdrop of China becoming increasingly integrated into the world economy, the country has decided to revive the ancient maritime Silk Road.

This proposal was officially raised by China's top leadership at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee held last November. The plan has excited the ambitious managers of Chinese cities lying along the ancient maritime route. It has also aroused the interest of countries that may benefit from the Chinese strategy to boost their own economies.

In the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Mayor (Summit) Forum recently held in Fuzhou, capital of southeast China's Fujian Province, scholars and officials of cities from China and abroad shared their views on the significance and the best way of reviving this ancient route.

Wei Jianguo, Deputy Secretary General of China International Economic and Exchange Center (CIEEC), said the economic size of China requires the country to shift its development strategy from continental bridge economy to marine economy. The marine economy referred to in this Chinese strategy is not simply acquiring of resources from the ocean, but rather the integration of the regional economy along the sea route.

According to Wei, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road strategy aims to revive the shipping route and connect important cities of ASEAN, the EU, the Arab League and the African Union along the route to form a circle of common interests and win-win cooperation.

"With this strategy, the 97 port cities within the circle can all share the fruit of the peaceful development of China, benefiting people of the whole region," said Wei.

Fuzhou's role

The southeast coastal region has always been the frontier of China's opening up to the world. This time, the cities in the region once again immediately sensed new development opportunities.

Yang Yimin, Mayor of Fuzhou, said his city will strive to become a key port on the modern maritime Silk Road.

Fuzhou has a long history of overseas trade. Its Gantang Port, which has existed for 1,500 years, was mainly used to trade with East Asian and Arab countries.

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