China and the Silk Road

Looking back in history books, the Silk Road which spanned across Asia and Europe in both in land and water was proved as one of the most significant aspects of ancient history as it paved the way for the transportation of various items to and from the ancient kingdom of China especially during the Han Dynasty in 138 B.C. (Bonavia, Wu and Lindesay). This vital road that skews its way throughout the mountains to the west of the kingdom served as a strategic as well an economic move for Wu Di to expand the land occupied by ancient China into somewhat near the current China that we know of today. Most of this can be attributed a lot to the reports that were submitted by the then the equivalent of ambassador, Zhang Qian which mostly consists of possible alliances with local leaders in the area (Drège, Bührer and Nihon Hoso Kyokai.). Eventually, no alliances were formed but opportunities for the empire were discovered.

Strategically speaking, the Silk Road was pursued by Wu Di out of Qian’s report that the land west of the empire has several rare artifacts that are useful to the Chinese empire (Franck and Brownstone). This was then strengthened by the fact that the local leaders such as Dayuan, Ta-Hsia, and Anxi lead a fairly large vast of territories in what is now Kazakhstan an other middle Asian countries that are protected by a relatively weak army. Add to this the existence of horse breeds, referred to as “Heavenly Horses” which are taller that the local breeds that the current empire has (Hopkirk). With such opportunities, these lands were pursued and conquered (Museum of the Sinkiang-Uighur Autonomous Region.).

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In terms of economic factors, the increasing amounts of products innovations of the Chinese such as fireworks and paper, and yes, silk, as well as the entry of the foreign traders from Asia Minor and Europe to China by sea through Southeast Asia urged local traders to find a shorter in-land route in order to improve trading between the two continents (Weng).  This became successful as the occupation of the weaker kingdoms in the west of the empire opened new doors for Chinese products to Europe and the Middle East. The sea-based Silk Road was still in use especially for bulk number of products. The in-land Silk Road then was made efficient through the use of beasts-of-burden such as horses and camels (Whitfield and British Library.).