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Maritime Silk Route

Maritime Silk Route
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Maritime Silk Route.Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena who is China on a visit has welcomed the Maritime Silk Route (MSR) Concept which China...

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena who is China on a visit has welcomed the Maritime Silk Route (MSR) Concept which China is working on. The project envisages the promotion of international TRADE along the ancient Chinese silk route which connected China with the West via Sri Lanka.The Maritime Silk Road initiative was first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Indonesia in October 2013. It is proposed to connect China with Southeast Asian countries, Africa and Europe. It includes construction of ports in several countries along the route and also the development of their hinterland. China even announced a $40 billion development fund, which would help finance the Maritime Silk Road.

Already, in terms of land trade, the Silk Road is a historically important international trade route between China and the Mediterranean. Because China silk comprised a large proportion of the trade along this ancient road, in 1877, it was named the 'Silk Road' by Ferdinand von Richthofen, an eminent German geographer. It is not only an ancient international trade route, but also a splendid cultural bridge linking the cultures of China, India, Persia, Arabia, Greek and Rome.If implemented, the MSR initiative would bind countries in the Bay of Bengal and the northern Indian Ocean much closer to the Chinese economy. Several states in the region, including the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have indicated an in-principle agreement to participate in the MSR and are keen to encourage Chinese investment in port and transport infrastructure and manufacturing facilities.

India has been much more circumspect about the proposal, and the visit of President Xi Jinping to Delhi in September 2014 failed to elicit an endorsement of the project from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. China wants India to shed its ambivalence about its initiative that aims to build a network of ports and maritime infrastructure throughout the Asia-Pacific. So far, China has received backing from "around 50" countries in South, Southeast and West Asia as well as Europe for the MSR and land-based Silk Road belt initiatives. And viewed in this context, the latest endorsement by Lanka, which China China sees as a lynchpin in the Indian Ocean Region, boosts the latter’s ambitious initiative in the Asia-Pacific region.

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