What’s Going On With the Modern Silk Road?

Back-dated photo of old market in the former Silk Road city of Hotan, Xinjiang province, home to China's ethnic-minority Muslim Uyghurs. (Image: Fdecomite/Flickr)
Back-dated photo of old market in the former Silk Road city of Hotan, Xinjiang province, home to China's ethnic-minority Muslim Uyghurs. (Image: Fdecomite/Flickr)

China’s Xi Jinping has announced plans to build a modern version of the Silk Road in an attempt to boost oil trade with Europe and reduce tension in the volatile northwest province of Xinjiang. But security experts aren’t optimistic of the future of this project.

According to Johan Nylander of Aljazeera, the ongoing oil mining reserves are cause for great disruption among ethnic locals: 

“On the sides of the narrow highways, large numbers of oil pumpjacks can be seen across the vast landscape, pumping relentlessly up and down…”

“One can see black puddles of oil spread in the sand next to the big nodding donkeys, so thick that you can write your name in it.”

“It might seem like a sign of wealth and prosperity for some, but for others it is more of a curse.”

Orkesh, a young man from the Muslim Uyghur ethnic group via Johan Nylander of Aljazeera said:

”The oil is the cause of all problems in Xinjiang. Before the oil, we lived here in peace. Today it’s chaos.”

So far, Beijing’s attempts to establish central control have lead to more than 100 deaths from anger caused among Uyghurs protesting the influx of Han Chinese migrant workers in their region.

Raffaello Pantucci, security analyst of China studies at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, contends the future of this plan looks bleak:

“Even if the strategies that the Chinese government is trying to implement work, they will take years to put into practice.”

“This means that the situation probably is going to get worse since people don’t see benefits coming directly, while the influx of migrants continue to increase.”

The opening of this new trade route looks like it’s going to invite some more unrest than Xi bargained for. What are your thoughts?

 

President Announces Formation of Ebola 'SWAT Team' (Video)
Is Our World Coming to an End or Is It Just a New Beginning? (Video)