A Short Guide to the New Silk Road

by Adam Nobis (Author)
©2018 Monographs 160 Pages


Most social scientists are familiar with the concept of the Silk Road. In recent years, however, it is the New Silk Road that has been on the lips of many. This short guide is addressed to all those eager to learn more about this new road. The New Silk Road resembles the old road in that it represents an ensemble of relationships and connections among several distant places. The author depicts some of them and presents people, institutions and projects connected to the road. Moreover, the various meanings and values attributed to the new road by different people across the world are explored. The book seeks to reveal the implications and meanings the New Silk Road has for the world we inhabit and for its future.
«Adam Nobis’s […] is a much-needed, relevant and interesting publication. It is relevant because it addresses processes unfolding before our eyes and impacting our real, socio-cultural world. It is interesting, for it discusses these processes in an original way and competently combines synthesis with analysis. It is much-needed as it offers the readers a wealth of detailed information about the developments it depicts.»
Leszek Kopciuch, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin
«This modestly-sized book is an outcome of the author’s painstakingly meticulous effort to put together scattered pieces into an imposing mosaic that is the New Silk Road. […] With Nobis’s guide in hand, the reader can feel at ease traversing, both physically and imaginatively, the paths that stretch between China and Europe.»
Leszek Koczanowicz, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • 1. Routes and places
  • 1.1 Railways
  • 1.2 Roads, bridges and tunnels
  • 1.3 By rail and by sea
  • 1.4 By sea
  • 1.5 Canals
  • 1.6 Ports
  • 1.7 Airports
  • 1.8 Pipelines
  • 1.9 Power lines and electric power plants
  • 1.10 Telecommunications
  • 1.11 Mines
  • 1.12 Places
  • 2. People, institutions and projects
  • 3. Meanings and values
  • 4. The Silk New World
  • References
  • Краткий путеводитель по Новому Шелковому Пути. Краткое изложение
  • A Short Guide to the New Silk Road
  • Index of towns, ports and airports
  • Series index

← 6 | 7 →


Many of us are well acquainted with the Silk Road. In recent years, however, a New Silk Road that has been on the lips of many. This short guide is addressed to all those who want to find out about this New Road in more detail. Like any short guide to a popular city, this guide only focuses on selected places, events and people and provides rather fragmentary information about them. Despite such limitations, this guide boasts a certain advantage. A monograph study of a city demands comprehensive descriptions and definitive conclusions. But what if we are dealing with a city which, though replete with various historic sights and monuments, is largely a construction site? Without offering a complete synthesis, this guide can help us move among such construction sites and compare an array of places with one another. Another advantage of this accessibly written guide is that it can be useful to very different people – students, entrepreneurs, scholars, tourists and all those who are curious about the world they live in. Its pocket size will not be a problem when we hit the road, no matter if we travel light, with a backpack or a briefcase. That it lacks conclusiveness and completeness is additionally motivated by the sheer volume and diversity of Silk Road plans and projects, most of which are developing as we speak (or read) of them and are modified in the process. To assess in how far this guide is helpful is up to its readers themselves.

The New Silk Road is a construction site. Some of its elements are ready, other ones are being constructed or designed, and still others will likely be devised in the future. Because I believe that this future is unforeseeable, I will not try and predict it. Instead, I will attempt to understand what is going on at this huge construction site – what is going on in the world we inhabit. Even this endeavour is thwarted somewhat by a very particular circumstance. Namely, various construction companies and teams are currently working there, and each of them implements its own projects and pursues its own aims. Their projects sometimes overlap and sometimes diverge conspicuously. The construction of the New Silk Road is an enterprise involving several countries, companies, organisations and individuals. This provokes inquiring whether there is one New Road or perhaps a multitude ← 7 | 8 → of interrelated Roads. The latter was the case with the Silk Road which we are now bound to call “old” for the sake of clarity. I do not think this guide will answer this question for us. But I hope that the readers who look for answers to this and related questions, will find this guide helpful.

Now a short guide to this short guide. Like the Old Road, the New Road is a network of connections among various, distant places. Part 1 presents selected connections and places. Part 2 covers people, institutions and projects, again not all of them, obviously. Part 3 lists meanings and values ascribed to the New Road by various people in various places. Part 4 offers a conclusion of sorts, against all odds and the reservations I articulated above. It defines what the New Road means to our world and its future. Like other guides, this one is not meant to be read page by page and entirely in one sitting. Rather, the readers are encouraged to find and read items of interest to them in the order of their own choosing.

← 8 | 9 →

1.  Routes and places

1.1  Railways

1.1.1  Yiwu (义乌) – Madrid

On 18 November, 2014, the first direct freight train called Yixinou left Yiwu, east China, to arrive in Madrid 21 days later. The train consisted of 82 cars and its locomotives were changed every 800 kilometres. On 9 December, having travelled 13,052 kilometres, the train arrived at the Madrid Abroñigal station, where it was welcomed by Ana Pastor, Spain’s Minister of Public Works and Transport. The train’s route runs across China (Luo­yang, Xian, Urumqi), Kazakhstan (Dostyk, Astana), Russia (Yekaterinburg, Moscow), Belarus (Brest), Poland (Warsaw), Germany (Berlin, Saarbru­cken), France (Poitiers) and Spain (Irún). Underway, three boogie exchanges were necessary due to gauge differences: in Dostyk at the Chinese-Kazakh border, in Brest at the Belarussian-Polish border and, finally, in Irún at the French-Spanish border. The first cargo contained 1,400 tons of Christmas sale products. Having left Madrid on 29 January, the Yixinou returned to Yiwu on 22 February, carrying wine, olive, mineral water and Spanish ham.

Alexander, Harriet; World’s
Burgen, Stephen; The Silk
Shepard, Wade; Why
Tharoor, Ishaan; The world’s
Xie, Jun; Yiwu

1.1.2  Chengdu (成都) – Lodz

Since April 2013, freight trains from Chengdu, central China, have been coming to Lodz, Poland. The service is operated by Lodz-based Hatrans, which offers weekly express transport by 41 cars, reaching the destination within 14 days and crossing Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. The 9,826-kilometre-long route runs through China’s Urumqi, Kazakhstan’s Dostyk, Russia’s Yekaterinburg and Moscow and Belarus’s Brest. Initially, the cars came back empty. Only on 18 August, 2015, the first 42-car trainset loaded with 1,000 tons of coconut cookies, vodka, mineral water, beer and cider departed from the Lódź-Olechów station to Chengdu. Over the first ← 9 | 10 → two years, about 100 regular and 50 charter trains came from China, carrying textiles, electronic products, household utensils and car appliances. Going back, the trains carried Polish groceries.

Hatrans Logistics
Magnuszewska, Agnieszka; Łódź
Magnuszewska, Agnieszka; Pociągi
Magnuszewska, Agnieszka; W kwietniu

1.1.3  Lodz – Xiamen (厦门)

In August 2015, Hatrans started a freight train service from Lodz to the port of Xiamen on the Chinese coast of the Taiwan Strait. On 26 August, the first train headed to Xiamen departed from the Łódź-Olechów station. The event was attended by the Mayor of Lodz Helena Zdanowska, the Lodz Province Marshall Witold Stępień and the Deputy Mayor of Xiamen Yunfeng Zheng.1 15 days later, the train’s 40 cars filled with products of the Lodz region: candies, beer and cider arrived at their destination. The nearly 11,000-kilometre-long route runs across Belarus (Brest), Russia (Moscow), Kazakhstan (Dostyk) and China (Urumqi, Chengdu).

Bińczyk, Beata; Inauguracja
Jędrzejczak, Agnieszka; Pierwszy

1.1.4  Zhengzhou (郑州) – Hamburg


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (October)
Silk Road Globalization Communication World order Values Meanings
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2018, 160 p.

Biographical notes

Adam Nobis (Author)

Adam Nobis is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Wrocław (Poland) and the Director of the Global Studies Laboratory at the Institute of Cultural Studies. He is also chief editor of the academic journal «Culture-History-Globalization».


Title: A Short Guide to the New Silk Road