Wednesday, October 16 08:54:12
In Central Asia in particular, China's leader has taken advantage of Russia's relative decline and the planned U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to expand his country's influence, experts said.
"China is making a pretty bold move," said Chris Johnson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Xi Jinping sees a huge gaping hole in terms of trade and economic opportunities that the U.S. has so far failed to take advantage of."
Dating back more than two millennia, a web of trade routes linking oasis towns brought Chinese silks and other products from across Asia to the West.
In his call for a new Silk Road, Xi was underlining the importance of China securing its energy supplies - overland to the gas and oil fields of Central Asia and beyond, and by sea through Asia's contested waters and via the busy Strait of Malacca.
Last month, Xi traveled to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and signed tens of billions of dollars' worth of investment deals, taking a share in a major Kazakh oil field and expanding gas imports piped from Turkmenistan.
In Astana, Kazakhstan, where deals worth $30 billion were inked, he talked wistfully of almost hearing "the ring of camel bells echoing in the mountains" and seeing "the wisp of smoke rising from the desert." According to The Washington Post.