Last Sunday, China became closer to the Middle East, thanks to the inauguration of a new freight route. This route connects Yiwu in Zhenjiang, China and Mazar-I-Sharif in Afghanistan. Yiwu is located in east China and it’s the world’s leading small commodities market. Eastern China is the most developed area in the country, so this new route is a big contribution to commerce relations between the two regions.
This is not the first freight route that links China to other counties, in fact this is the fifth route. The first four routes already connect Yiwu with Russia, Iran, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. All these routes are part of the ‘one belt, one road’ Chinese innovation that started in 2013. There are two advantages of traveling by train above maritime transportation: One is the travel duration that is estimated as half the time by train compared to maritime transportation, and the second is the ability to make the trail route safer. These two advantages are good for both sides of the route, since it’s made the price of shipping cheaper, and consequently also cheaper for the final consumer.
The new freight route that was inaugurated last Sunday, makes China closer to the Middle East with respect to transport ability and transport duration. There are three implications of this move for the Middle East Region. The first one is that China will become a closer partner in the region economic. The second implication is the fact that when China has more properties in the area, in this case a freight route, they will become more involved in other affairs beyond the economic aspect. The last implication relating to Afghanistan is that the growing relationship with China will likely make it more attractive in the eyes of other countries, and they may also try to strengthen trade arrangement. Maybe in the future we will see a change, for the better, in the economic situation of Afghanistan.