The Silk Road … Will it save the world struggling the Corona virus?


The Silk Road, which transported goods, has the burden today of transmitting ideas, the most important of which are the founding ideas of a healthy world, in which people are blessed with medical safety, where the treatment that research has proven feasible can find its way in the convoy heading to cure the suffering spots.

By Ashraf Aboul-Yazid

The sun was strong enough to rush away from the shade of the blessed and giant tree; whose green hands stretched over us, as we were visiting the shrine of the literary scholar Mahmoud Qashgari, near his hometown; the city of Qashgar, the gateway of the Silk Road to the world from Xinjiang, the region where China is connected geographically and historically to the Russians, Uzbeks, Afghans and Sindhi (Indus) peoples.

From here, the Chinese linguist, with his Turkish roots coming from Mongolia in northern China, set out for Baghdad, the capital of the Islamic caliphate of his time, to offer the literary world in two years of his stay there, his most famous book, the Dictionary of Turk Languages, which he gifted the Abbasid caliph ten centuries ago.

The giant tree above us was almost like a silk road map; and I imagined that its roots would extend to Xi’an; where the first travels were born, and that its branches would spread from here to grow and give its fruits in all parts of the world, exchanging cultures, through the immortal road stations, which embodied the mirrors of war and love over time.

Today, the map of the world is different from the one that Qashgari included in his dictionary; in which the world was drawn in a circle, like a flat globe, starting from the land of Yagog in the far south, and extending to the borders of Egypt and the land of the Levant in the far north (east and west on the map). The world, which is not flat, owes its discoveries to the Silk Road; thanks to its travelers, writers, artists and other makers of civilization and the creators of culture.

The World Map as published in the Dictionary of Turk Languages, by Mahmoud Qashgari (1005 – 1102 )

The Silk Road liberated the world and shifted it from the hands of myths to the grip of history. The Silk Rod transferred the world from the imagination of the adventurers, to the reality of scholars, and crossed time it from the experiences of merchants to economists. Today it is not one way, but there is more than a silky road that goes by land, sea, and air. There is even an iron silk road, we’re the sound of its trains echoes in the European sky, all the way to the markets in the heart of Asia, passing through capitals and spaces that would not have been connected without the Silk Road.

The post-belt and the road -world

But the Silk Road movements, which were launched on the camel hump of caravans in ancient times, revived a new way new convoys, not only carriers, ships, trains and planes, but also acquired the caravans through e-commerce, which achieved the concept of the global market, especially after the Chinese President’s initiative, which has become known by the whole world as the Belt and Road, or (the economic belt of the Silk Road in the 21st century).

The summits of the Chinese President with the leaders of more than 60 countries participating in his initiative made the dream of economic prosperity a reality. The Arabs witnessed that reality in more than one country.

Despite what the world endured, after the outbreak of the Corona virus (Covid 19), Chinese investment in countries along the Belt and Road rose 18.3 percent year on year basis to $ 2.72 billion in the first two months of this year. According to official figures, the value of engineering contracts signed by Chinese companies in 59 countries along the belt and road in January and February 2020 amounted to 15.36 billion US dollars, up 25.6 percent a year on a year basis. China’s non-financial direct investment in 147 countries and regions amounted to 107.86 billion yuan (about 15.5 Billion US dollars) over the same period, up 1.8 percent a year on year basis.

But attention to traditional and innovative projects in the investment map, which focused on infrastructure and human resources, has had to pay similar attention to the medical industry and investment in science and technical research. The epidemic has revealed that the whole world – outside China – is not prepared to face and win a similar epidemic. Hence, the air, sea, and land silk roads started moving to save human lives.

The Chinese experience within its borders was exemplary. Immediately after the diagnosis of the virus and the outbreak of the epidemic, the government took swift and courageous preventive measures there, which dazzled the world, and was praised by the World Health Organization. Temporary hospitals were similarly established. The city of Wuhan (from which the virus was active) used exhibition sites and sports stadiums as temporary hospitals, to provide about 70,000 beds. To overcame the lack of doctors in the city other Chinese provinces and cities responded and sent medical teams to Wuhan (the number reached Doctors and corridor More than 42 thousand people were killed.

But the most serious aspect that China has efficiently implemented was to reduce contact with people, so Chinese companies allowed their employees to work at home via the Internet, and nobody moved in the entrances of the subway, residential gatherings, and stores without finding health teams to check their body temperature, even if someone’s temperature exceeded 37.3 degrees, he or she will be put in quarantine for the duration of possible virus incubation period (14 days). Residents were able to purchase consumables via electronic applications on smart phones, pay electronically, and deliver purchases to the entrances of residential neighborhoods, to avoid their exit.

When China closed its doors to ensure recovery for those in it, a silk road started caravans carrying equipment and arriving from more than 21 countries that initiated China’s assistance in its hard times, and after the end of the biggest confrontation, China began to return the favor and the also initiated the help of other countries, the belt and the road are no longer understood as an economic investment, but it is also a passage for international and human relations.

From words to actions

But the most important lesson that countries should be aware of after this difficult period is to move from rising slogans calling for international cooperation to the stages of implementing this cooperation for the well-being and peace of humanity.

Investing in health has become an integral pillar, because citizen safety means are continuing the life and work cycle to the fullest.

Also, transparency can achieve the desired results, especially when it comes to affecting the global citizens, and is related to their health. The circulation of information about illness and treatment is as important and dangerous as the exchange of information about security.

Politics spoils the human effort and impedes the public good, and politicizing the problem means transferring confrontation to side wars, instead of cooperating to eliminate the root of the problem itself.

The future of science, scientific planning, scientific research, and investment in these areas means owning the future. Robots have helped China in its war against the Corona virus, and have reduced the number of teams exposed to contact with patients. Robots are currently helping to entertain the isolated patients in Europe and the United States, and just as the robot was a partner in the auto industry it became a symbol of hope.

The crisis demonstrated to the whole world the importance of distance education. In Egypt, I sit every day to download pictorial programs and print forms sent for my daughter and transmitted through the Google Classrooms, in order to watch them on TV, or to solve them in print. The Egyptian Ministry of Education started receiving the required research through dedicated sites, online?

This forced transition will become normal, and in future it may overcome class congestion and possibly decrease the number of teachers.

The Third globalization

The whole world was talking about the globalization of the economy, its destructive role for small industries and micro-economies, then here the world itself is witnessing the globalization of the disease, and if we are going to tackle the globalization of the economy by investing in the field of small industries, then tackling the globalization of the disease will only come with the third globalization; which is the globalization of medical treatment.

Statistics have revealed strange figures, among the Corona victims; they are the most numerous among black and poor Americans. Victims are the least number – relatively to the population of the state – among the Indians. This means that joint research must be conducted to reach more efficient methods of treatment, linking the environment to the human gene, which is a research path longer than all silk roads combined!

The Silk Road, which transported goods, has the burden today of transmitting ideas, the most important of which are the founding ideas of a healthy world, in which people are blessed with medical safety, where the treatment that research has proven feasible can find its way in the convoy heading to cure the suffering spots.

Factories that have spread around the world can turn into a giant production network linking its tracks with the new Silk Road transferring respirators from west to east, robots traveling from north to south, and pumping investments in organizations concerned with the world’s health and the welfare of productive families.

Also, the introduction of a subject in social studies bearing the name (the Silk Road), can be an entry point for understanding and interacting with the other positively (in history, history of science, geography, economics, human experiences, religions…

The East, in China, South Korea, and Singapore, for examples, are no longer just roots of wisdom, nor is it just that the industrial revolution of the Asian tigers alone, but the spirit of dedication to work, strict discipline, and the preservation of nature as our partner in life.

Shrine of Mahmoud Qashgari

Perhaps, a day will come when I return to the shrine of the linguistic scientist Mahmoud Qashgari, to tell him that his ancestors wrote another dictionary for the languages ​​of the world, gathering those tongues that unite their hearts: the languages ​​of compassion and cooperation for peace, happiness and a common future.

(The author is Editor-in-Chief of Silk Road Literature Series and President of Asia Journalists Association – AJA)

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