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Diplomatic World_nummer 56.

easons, as well as the

easons, as well as the journey via major cities: all of that offers a number of advantages. HP uses now cargo trains to ship products to and from China. Another global player DHL has weekly express service trains originating in Chengdu via Kazakhstan to Poland. The short rail connections between Chongqing and Duisburg (10.800 km – 10 days) have a bright future. It is therefore time of the essence for the EU Commission and for the EU Parliament to develop an ambitious plan: a connecting facility between the TEN-T networks and these new Silk Roads according to Opsomer. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016 and 2017 much attention was given to these new China Silk Roads. It was stressed that the new Silk Roads should not just be maritime routes or multimodal rail-, road corridors; but that this new global network should become an information e-network. Such silk road information highway could play an important role in further developing e-commerce and accelerating the 4th industrial revolution: industry 4.0 and logistics 4.0. Last year the Davos World Economic Forum made this even more practical by focusing on new technologies like blockchain that can connect business processes and different actors along the Silk Road value chain in a safe way. Freddy Opsomer anticipated this statements and took at the Hannover Industry Messe in 2015 the initiative to bring regions, free zones and industrial parks together in an association “Silk Road parks” — for his Silk Road Initiative, 3 parks and a strategic partner signed a memorandum of understanding. These were the Kaunas Free Economic Zone, the mega industrial China park “Great Stone” in Minsk and Jiashan, the economic industrial expansion area of Shanghai. The parks want to promote each other along the same value chain of the Silk Road; they want to become sustainable and to be connected in this global network of the 4th industrial revolution: the e-silk road. As Germany’s industry is a forerunner in the automatization, the robotisation, the internet of things, industrial 3-D printing — Opsomer wants now to set up the international association with a strategic German anchorage. But in addition he will invite also other parks on the silk road to join the new silk road initiative: West European and Baltic ports, inland ports like Duisburg and industrial parks and free zones in Russia (for example Yekaterinburg located on the border between Europe and Asia) and in Kazakhstan. Russia’s Transsiberian railway or the TSR is still today the longest railway line of nearly 10.000 km connecting St Petersburg with Vladivostok. This silk road “avant la lettre” already started in 1891 and forms today as a heroic mega rail line, part of the new railway land corridors that connect Western Europe and Asia. The new Silk Roads will really boost regional economies and will be therefore accelerators of welfare and economic wealth. Freddy Opsomer is convinced that history repeats itself. He makes attention to the old historical silk roads where for example already in The meeting point between the East (inspired by communist and confucianist thinking) and the West (socially corrected market economy) should now create unique opportunities to work out new visions for the promotion of growth within a broadly supported social, cultural and economic model and an environmentally sound platform: a new model for the future of humanity. Freddy Opsomer concludes with a dream which he hopes may come true: silk road trains not carrying cargo all the way from China to Europe — but silk road passenger trains that will stop in the cities and regions along the Silk Road — inviting people to join the multicultural adventure of the Silk road and facilitated by a real “Silk Road Visum” politically made possible through multilateral agreements between the EU, Russia and China. 92

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