China set up 1.6 billion dollars fund to support maritime Silk Road development

May 21, 2014 14:50 IST

China on 19 May 2014 set up a 1.6 billion dollars (10 billion Yuan) fund that will support projects related to maritime Silk Road development of China.

The agreement to set up the fund was signed by the city government of Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province of China with the China Africa Development Fund (CAD Fund) and the Fujian branch of the China Development Bank.

The agreement was signed at the ongoing 16th Cross-Straits Fair for Economy and Trade in Fuzhou.

Since ancient times, the sea route from ports in Fujian to overseas markets has witnessed China's silk, ceramics and tea traded to the world. As such the signing of the agreement in Fuzhou will boost Fuzhou's role as a hub of the Silk Road.

About the maritime Silk Road development project
The project will prioritise building ports and infrastructure in strategically important countries in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region, which includes Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. China has already started construction of port projects in Gwadar, Hambantota and Chittagong respectively.

However, the map of the project published in May 2014 does not mention about Gwadar port though it showed Kolkata and Colombo as cities with which China wanted to build closer trade linkages.

As part of the initiative to revive the ancient maritime Silk Road, China also plans to set up free trade zones linking China’s coastal areas with Southeast Asian countries and in the Indian Ocean. These are the regions with which China had trade relations through ancient maritime Silk Road.

The re-establishment of maritime Silk Road was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a trip to Indonesia in October 2013.

The Route of proposed Maritime Silk Road
The Maritime Silk Road will begin in Quanzhou in Fujian province, and also hit Guangzhou (Guangdong province), Beihai (Guangxi), and Haikou (Hainan) before heading south to the Malacca Strait.

From Kuala Lumpur, the Maritime Silk Road heads to Kolkata, India then crosses the rest of the Indian Ocean to Nairobi, Kenya.
From Nairobi, the Maritime Silk Road goes north around the Horn of Africa and moves through the Red Sea into the Mediterranean, with a stop in Athens before meeting the land-based Silk Road in Venice.

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