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“一带一路”英文阅读资料
2015-03-18 14:29:02  

 

China's Silk Roads

LAST autumn, half a year after assuming office, Chinese President Xi Jinping invoked the ancient Silk Road of the Han Dynasty 2,000 years ago and called for the forging of contemporary trading routes.

In Kazakhstan, he urged the creation of a modern-day "Silk Road Economic Belt", stretching from China into Europe. The following month, in Indonesia, he called for the building of a "Maritime Silk Road of the 21st century".

China is pushing these two initiatives -- now referred to as "one belt and one road" -- to create new platforms for economic growth, as well as a vehicle for binding it to other countries in Asia, and to those in Europe and Africa, as well.

The initiatives are linked to Beijing's desire to stimulate domestic development, especially of the country's vast western regions.

China is acting to turn its dreams into reality. It has held strategic talks and reached agreements with Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia, which will not only tighten China's economic relations with those countries, but also bind them more closely together as a region. Regional development is very much part of the Chinese strategy.

The online edition of the People's Daily, in a feature article entitled "The Silk Road -- From Past to the Future", provides an indication of China's thinking of what it hopes to achieve through these twin initiatives.

"Not only will China upgrade its own economy," the People's Daily said, "it will go for an upgraded version of opening-up... and expand its mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries, neighbouring countries, in particular".

The official Xinhua News Agency released a map showing the "overland Silk Road" and "maritime Silk Road". The former begins in Xian and goes on to Lanzhou and Xinjiang before crossing into Central Asia, moving into Iran and Turkey, and swinging up to Moscow and traversing Europe, ending in Venice, Italy.

The maritime route links China to Europe, via Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In fact, the "belt" and "road" meet in Venice, the hometown of Marco Polo, who travelled to China in the 13th century.

China is serious about its ambitious plans to link Asia, Africa and Europe, with itself as the hub.

Xinhua is promoting and publicising the "belt" and "road" to show that these concepts have actually been set in train.

It announced that "a large integrated team" of journalists had set off on June 8 from Xian and would cross the Eurasian continent, conducting interviews along the way, in a campaign called "New Silk Road, New Dream". The reporters and photographers are travelling in a 10-car motorcade.

Xinhua announced that a separate team of journalists would travel on the maritime route, beginning with Chuanzhou in Fujian province. It is not clear how long the two events will last.

China expects a substantial increase in trade with its neighbours in coming years. Trade with Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, totaled US$40 billion (RM128.3 billion) last year after several years of double-digit increases.

Trade with South Asia has also risen steadily, from US$35 billion in 2006 to US$100 billion last year. Where Southeast Asia is concerned, trade is even bigger. Two-way trade with Asean reached US$443.6 billion last year and the two sides have agreed on a target of US$1 trillion by 2020.

However, Beijing needs to temper its optimism with realities on the ground. The recent rise in terrorist incidents, not only in Xinjiang, but in other parts of the country, are a strong signal that China needs to revise its policy on ethnic minorities. The self-immolation of Tibetans and attacks by Uighur groups on Han civilians are clear signs that the minorities policy is not working.

If Beijing wants the "economic belt" to develop smoothly, it needs to create conditions under which the minorities are happy to be part of China and end the current policy of drowning the minorities in a sea of Han immigrants.

Where the maritime route is concerned, China needs to mend fences with its neighbours in Southeast Asia. The policy of intimidation of smaller countries, with which China has territorial and maritime disputes, is creating great suspicion of it and what it might do in the future, and making those countries look to the United States for support.

Unless China mends its relations with neighbours like Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, Southeast Asia may well turn into a stumbling block, rather than a stepping stone in its attempts to pave a maritime "road" to India, Africa and into Europe. ega-co��tv���X�cts and viewing mutual benefits in them and for harmonization of customs & financial rules and regulations, removal/lowering of tariff and non-tariff barriers, trade and investment facilitation, etc in order that desirable economic integration may be achieved. Steps have to be taken for facilitation of visas. Agreements would be necessary also for promotion of tourism and people-to-people contacts between the countries. Negotiation at the bilateral and multilateral levels may be commenced soon on all these matters and areas.

 

A major issue would be building or development of appropriate infrastructural facilities in all the counties along the ‘One Belt & One Road’ for smooth operation of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road. Many of the countries might need financial and technical assistance in this regard. China might be required to provide a huge chunk of it. Expeditious founding of the planned Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and early commencement of its functioning could be a major step forward in this arena. Eurasia Economic Forum (EEF) may be a good platform for action in this regard.

Expos on the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and car rallies along the planned Silk Road may be held in all the countries along the Belt in a bid to give visibility to the spirit and concept of the new SREB and the philosophy behind it. A series of seminars and symposiums in the countries along the Belt and the Road may be organised to drive the “One Belt One Road” initiative home to the peoples of those countries. And the embassies and consulates of those countries in China can coordinate between the relevant authorities in their countries and those in China and extend all possible support to an early materialization of the two epoch-making projects –‘One Belt & One Road’ –launched by China.

 

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