Clarify the Maritime Silk Road

Posted by Thomas Shaw on February 26th, 2021

The Maritime Silk Road was a conduit for trade and cultural exchange between China's south-eastern coastal locations and foreign countries. There have been two main routes: the East China Sea Silk Route along with the South China Sea Silk Route. Get more details about Maritime Silk Road

A visitor looks at Quanzhou-style lanterns through an exhibition on intangible cultural heritages along the ancient Maritime Silk Road in Quanzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province, Nov. 23, 2019. (Xinhua/Wei Peiquan)

Starting from Quanzhou Fujian Province, the Maritime Silk Road was the earliest voyage route that was formed within the Qin and Han dynasties, created from the Three Kingdoms Period for the Sui Dynasty, flourished in the Tang and Song dynasties, and fell into decline within the Ming and Qing dynasties.

By way of the Maritime Silk Road, silks, china, tea, and brass and iron had been the 4 most important categories exported to foreign countries; when spices, flowers and plants, and uncommon treasures for the court were brought to China. For that reason, the Maritime Silk Road was also called "the Maritime China road" or "the Maritime spices road".

The Maritime Silk Road, like its overland counterpart, had its origins throughout the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). Though vast seas separate the four corners with the Earth, with advances in shipbuilding and navigational technologies, maritime transport came to supply unprecedented access to the most distant destinations.

It can be identified that the bulk of your raw and processed silk transported along the overland Silk Road through the Han Dynasty was created mostly along China's southern coast and inside the coastal Wu, Wei, Qi, and Lu regions (present-day Shandong Province). Since ancient occasions, these regions happen to be thriving centers of shipbuilding at the same time as silk production. They were therefore able to supply each commodities for export as well as the signifies to transport them across the sea. It was this combination that supplied the social and material conditions needed for the development of maritime trade during the Han Dynasty.

The maritime routes opened by Emperor Han Wudi (reigned 140-87 BC) supplied access to the Roman Empire by way of India, marking the first oceanic route also because the earliest maritime trading route inside the world. This enabled China to actively seek out overseas markets and establish foreign trade relations, and laid the foundation for the development from the Maritime Silk Road.

Han Shu Record (also called The History from the Han Dynasty) kept the initial total vivid record on China's boats sailing into the Indian Ocean in the South Sea by means of the Malacca Strait in Southeast Asian waters. Han ships would leave from Xuwen in South China's Guangdong Province, or Hepu in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Area, and via the South Sea, would arrive in India and Sri Lanka -- a transfer station, where pearls, colored glazes, and also other exotic factors could possibly be bought. Chinese silk was transported to Rome hereafter. Such was the Maritime Silk Road.

In his book Nature History, Gaius Plinius Secundus, a knowledgeable scientist in ancient Rome, recorded, "four sailors from (today's Sri Lanka) left for Rome (through the Caesar Era). Based on one from the sailors named Rutgers, each Rome and Sri Lanka had direct trade relations with China."

In 166 from the Han Dynasty, the Roman Emperor sent envoys to China, presenting different such gifts as ivory and hawksbill turtles for the imperial royal court, which marked the earliest friendly relations between China and European countries. A direct route from the East to the West was for that reason opened up.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), Chinese ships set sail from Guangzhou, bound across the South China Sea, hence pioneering one of the most vital routes with the maritime Silk Road. Additionally to transporting silk, the South China Sea routes stimulated each material and cultural exchange. Countries all through Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, as well as Europe dispatched emissaries to China through the new maritime routes to establish diplomatic relations, obtain silk, and engage of trade of all sorts. Silk, because the principal maritime trade commodity, flowed in a steady stream from China to other countries.

Profits in the maritime trade were one on the Chinese government's significant sources of income for the duration of this time. The Tang, Song (960-1279), and Yuan (1279-1368) Dynasties all appointed particular Commissions of Maritime Affairs at coastal cities such as Guangzhou (Canton), Mingzhou (present-day Ningbo), and Quanzhou. These offices were responsible for overseeing maritime trade and delivering logistic support and preferential treatment for foreign merchants in China. The maritime Silk Road hence became a conduit for promoting friendly relations and linking East and West.

East China Sea Route

Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou, the beginning location of Maritime Silk Road. The East China Sea Route enjoys a long history of about 3,000 years. It was throughout the Zhou Dynasty that Ji Zi, a court official, was sent on a journey east, setting off from Shangdong Peninsula's Bohai Gulf and navigating his way across the Yellow Sea, which led towards the introduction of sericiculture (silkworm farming), filature and silk spinning into Korea.

When Emperor Qin Shi Huang united China, quite a few Chinese fled to Korea and took with them silkworms and breeding technology. This sped up the development of silk spinning in Korea. These new abilities as well as the technologies had been subsequently introduced into Japan during the Han Dynasty. Because the Tang Dynasty, the silks produced by Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces have been straight shipped to Japan. Quite a few Japanese envoys and monks have been also in a position to travel to Chang'an (now Xi'an) along this sea route.

South China Sea Route

Guangzhou represented the starting-point of your South China Sea Route, which extended across the Indian Ocean then on to different nations situated around the Persian Gulf. The types goods dispatched for trade consisted primarily of silk, china and tea, whilst imported merchandise included a variety of spices, flowers and grasses - hence it getting normally referred to as the sea's 'China Road' plus the sea's 'Flavor Road' .

The route was initially used inside the Qin and Han Dynasties, and enhanced in popularity in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280) for the Sui Dynasty (581-618). Up until the Tang Dynasty Anshi Rebellions (755-762), this route was viewed as a secondary option to the Silk Road, Having said that within the latter half in the eighth century, owing to the scourge of wars within the vast Western Regions, trade volumes along the Maritime Silk Road boomed as these on its overland counterpart steadily declined.

Delicate Silk Technologic advances in shipbuilding and navigation led for the opening of new sea-lanes for the Southeast Asia, Malacca, areas inside the Indian Ocean and also the Persian Gulf. Guangzhou became the initial wonderful harbor in China about the time of the Tang and Song Dynasties, even though it was later substituted by Quanzhou in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) because the most important trade port.

The Naval Expedition towards the West by Zheng He inside the early part of the Ming Dynasty demonstrated the great significance on the Silk Road and was to represent the peak of its popularity. The governments in the Ming and Qing Dynasties issued a ban on maritime trade, contributing to enormous decline in its use. Because the Opium War broke out in 1840, the Silk Road on the Sea completely disappeared.

As early as 2,000 years ago, the Maritime Silk Road began from China's south-east coastal regions, traversing a vast expanse of oceans and seas to nations in Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe.

This trading route that connects the East plus the West, had enhanced the exchanges of commodities, people and culture amongst countries situated on the road.

So that you can revive the ancient Maritime Silk Road and bring more benefits towards the relevant countries and peoples, the initiative that China and nations along the ancient Maritime Silk Road would create with each other a brand new Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century was proposed by China.

Such an initiative draws inspiration both from history and from most up-to-date developments within the 21st century. The aim is to inject sturdy impetus in enhancing political mutual trust, deepening financial cooperation, and promoting cultural as well as people-to-people exchanges amongst relevant nations via joint cooperation, popular development and regional integration. All countries along the Maritime Silk Road are welcome to program, develop and advantage with each other in the initiative.

Since the initiative was initial raised, several nations have actively supported and engaged themselves inside the development with the or the Silk Road Financial Belt (the "Belt and Road" for short) or each.

On Oct. 24, 2014, twenty-first Asian countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, aiming to finance and facilitate infrastructure constructions for Asian nations along the "Belt and Road".

The MOU specifies that the authorized capital of AIIB is 100 billion U.S. dollars plus the initial subscribed capital is anticipated to become around 50 billion dollars. The paid-in ratio are going to be 20 percent.

The 21 countries are Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

At the APEC Summit 2014 held in Beijing in November, 2014, China announced to contribute US billion to set up a Silk Road Fund to supply investment and financial support to carry out infrastructure, resources, industrial and financial cooperation and other projects related to connectivity for nations along the "Belt and Road".

With additional support from other nations and wider coverage across the area, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road has come to be an initiative not for one country but for all nations who welcome and support the initiative and are working collectively closely with one another for economic and social advancement also as for the welfare of their peoples. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road has always been and can nevertheless be open to all nations along the road.

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Thomas Shaw

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Thomas Shaw
Joined: March 17th, 2018
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