BELT AND ROAD
Censorship: an unruly zone emerges in ancient trade route revival
A pliant media network is more elusive than an infrastructure web
In the city of Dunhuang in western China, the Mingsha Shan Mountain is picturesque, with golden sand dunes, camels and a clear blue sky. At first glance, it’s the biggest tourist attraction. But the quiet, unassuming city’s history began as one of the most important transit points along the ancient Silk Road. The Belt and Road is the modern day reincarnation of the Silk Road. That road was a trade route that linked the cultures and economies of the countries it connected, from east China to Kathmandu in Nepal, Aleppo in Syria and Venice in Italy. Chinese President Xi Jinping called it "the project of the century". With about $292bn in funding, the project looks set to expand even further to ensure Xi’s words ring true. According to a report by Baker McKenzie and Silk Road Associates, projects related to the Belt and Road are estimated to be worth $350bn in the next five years. More than 50 Chinese state-owned enterprises have already invested or participated in nearly 1,700 projects...