It’s Friday, and time for our next Q&A open thread. I am fielding questions again this week, as our intended guest was not able to make it.
As we move forward, I will ideally publish a video interview with a Silk Road traveler, researcher, or investor on Monday and then on Friday invite him / her to be available for the community here to ask questions to directly.
Last week’s Q&A was pretty vibrant, to put it mildly, bringing in 69 comments and a lot of lively discussion. However, I’m going to have to ask everyone to work a little to keep things civil. China’s activities abroad, the Belt and Road, etc… is a big, always changing, and pretty contentious topic — everyone has an opinion and most of us at least a little wrong sometimes. The idea here is not to be right but to learn from what other people have to say, question our assumptions, and learn from each other.
Alright, let’s get to it.
Feel free to ask me — or anyone else in the community (feel free to talk with each other) — anything about the Silk Road:
—> I spent around four years traveling the various routes of the New Silk Road, ask me about the nuances of that and for travel tips.
—> I’ve written hundreds of article for big media (Forbes, The Guardian, etc) and a book about Silk Road development, politics, and culture. Feel free to ask me anything about the journalistic side of Belt and Road coverage.
—> My first book was about China’s “ghost cities” and the modernization of the country. Ask me about that and how it relates to the Silk Road.
—> Beyond the Silk Road, I’ve pretty much been traveling since ‘99, through nearly 100 countries. If you have any general travel questions, ask away.
—> I’ve worked along the Silk Road as a journalist, academic researcher, and videographer. If you have any how-to, tech, or strategic questions related to these profession, ask them below.
Let’s have fun with this. Be nice. Fire away.
Hey folks - am just signing on now from the Seattle area. We are a bit behind, time-wise. I've spent time in Kazakhstan (2007) and Mongolia (last year) and have a question for those who've traveled through the 'Stans more than I have: Wouldn't you say you need to be pretty proficient in Russian? That's what I ran into in Kaz (although it has been 13 years, I admit). And are there any women here who've traveled alone? Would love to see places like the Fergana Valley but how safe is it for women?
After watching the video about “winners and losers”, I got the opinion that the new silk road is being built against the wishes of the market - there are a lot of unprofitable projects. What are the authors of these projects counting on?
Good evening, greetings from Kenya
So yes I have travelled across China twice, been through Khorgas, and in Doidoi, and over the Khunjerab. Most of what I know re the BRI i have learnt from reading your stuff on VBJ and on Forbes.
Ok , but they have established rail networks from Vladivostok, (and connecting boats from Japan and Korea) and BJ of course that go across Russia, through Belarus , Poland and across europe.
Why the China, Kaz, caspian sea, Azerbaijan , Georgia, black sea, Turkey routes.? Or rather, what made everyone favour the BRI over the Russian route?
I have a whole different question I’d like to pose to the group: Is anyone familiar with the ‘back to Jerusalem’ movement among Chinese Christians? Back in the 1940s, the Christians there got the idea to evangelize along the historic Silk Road, among Muslim communities that would not be open to Westerners but would never suspect anything of the Chinese, all the way ‘back to Jerusalem.’ The idea got dropped during the Mao era (as most of these folks were landing in prison or killed) but it picked up in the 1990s when there was more religious freedom. There’s been secret Bible camps training folks how to insert themselves in the culture of certain Muslim countries along the Silk Road, basically for life.
There are occasional articles on this (http://www.religionwatch.com/chinas-missionaries-re-tread-back-to-jerusalem-on-the-silk-road/) and I’ve written on it myself, but what’s missing are folks who’ve actually run into these missionaries.
It’s very hard to tell how many of these folks are out there now. The South China Morning Post reported on a group of missionaries in Iraqi Kurdistan not long ago and you may remember some missionaries who were killed in Baluchistan about 2 years ago. Is anyone familiar with this movement or (better still) run into any Chinese who may have a business visa into a Muslim country but may be doing some evangelizing on the side?
Would you say that China-Africa extractive projects have produced a win-win situation to date?
Good afternoon from Naivasha thats East Africa hehehe. So this Corona pandemic, will it make people NOT want to have everything MADE IN CHINA, after all, we can all make stuff, we can all grow stuff (UK is importing Kenyan veg as we speak - bless them) and will any anti Chinese feeling if it even exists (though i suspect it might) effect the BRI . ? personal view points please....
Lots of anti China feeling here after treatment of Africans in China...
What’s Georgia like? And similar questions to Julia. Do you need some basic language skills to get by and is it relatively safe for female solo travellers?