Nothing beats China’s train system. For the first time in the history, a Chinese container freight train which left the eastern industrial city of Yiwu on November 18, is supposed to reach Madrid after 21 days of arduous journey. The train is expected to cover a distance of 6,200 miles – much longer than Russia’s famed Trans-Siberian Railway.
The route of the Yiwu-Madrid train cuts through China’s far-western region of Xinjiang and then the vast Central Asian state of Kazakhstan. The train will then cover five other countries – Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France – before completing its journey in the Spanish capital.
In an effort to deepen the trade links between its booming economy and markets in Europe, the Chinese government is constructing several long distance train routes and the Yiwu-Madrid line which is dubbed as the New Silk Road is one of those projects. Apart from that, China also wants to flex its muscle into a transportation sector still dominated by European companies.
A sense of historic primacy is also driving China’s New Silk Road project. A map published this year by Xinhua depicted the new Silk Road on land as well at sea.
The government of Chinese President Xi Jinping has allocated an initial $40 billion to invest in better infrastructure and freight logistics for the trains to boost intercontinental land trade.
According to experts, Xi’s new Silk Road project has a geopolitical edge with its intent to better knit together logistics and markets in Europe and Asia and the potential to block the US hegemony in Asia.
China has also proposed another freight route to enter Europe through Turkey.