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The Silk Road (丝绸之路 sī chóu zhī lù): Broadly speaking, this term refers to both the land Silk Road and the maritime Silk Road. The land Silk Road was formed during the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – 200 AD), starting from Chang’an (now Xi’an), passing through today’s Gansu Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and then Central and Western Asia, and connecting the Mediterranean countries. Its original function was to transport the silk produced in ancient China to the West, which later turned to the exchange between China and the West in a broader sense, such as economy, trade, technology, religion, and culture. The maritime Silk Road is a maritime route for communication, trade, and cultural exchanges between ancient China and the countries surrounding the South China Sea. It was formed in the Qin and Han dynasties (221 BC – 200 AD) and flourished since the Tang and Song dynasties (618 – 1279). In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed successively the cooperation initiatives of building “the Silk Road Economic Belt” and “the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” as the inheritance and development of the ancient Silk Roads. Known later as the “Belt and Road Initiative,” it is the most important national strategy of China to actively develop economic, social, and cultural cooperative partnership with the countries along the Belt and Road.

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