• CGTN reporter Yang Chengxi has travelled to the Central Asian country of Tajikistan, and journeyed on the ancient Silk Road that is still very much alive today, with enhanced connectivity to neighboring states. We explore the enduring legacy of the Silk Road – fostering connectivity and cultural exchange.

YANG CHENGXI Dushanbe “We’re driving on thousands of years of history.”

This is Tajikistan, a Central Asian country with a rich culture. Located at the crossroads of various civilizations, it was an important milestone on the ancient Silk Road. But the old Silk Road isn’t just a relic of the past. It’s still very much alive today.

“From the Somoni Square here in the center of Dushanbe, you can embark on a journey along a legendary 1,000-kilometer highway that has been part of the ancient Silk Road for millennia.”

It’s a highway that connects Tajikistan with China, and is part of the age-old Pamir Highway. As we exit the eastern city gate of Dushanbe, our road trip picks up speed.

“We’re driving on thousands of years of history.”

The former Soviet Union was the first to pave the historical trail, but it has been falling apart for a long time. In 2009, the China Road and Bridge Corporation was commissioned to upgrade the road to modern standards. The plan is for the upgraded road to eventually connect with the Chinese border.

As the highway project extends eastwards from Dushanbe, it will face a major challenge: the Pamir mountains. With difficult terrain and harsh weather, this region accounts for nearly 45 percent of the country’s land mass but only two percent of its population.

LI CHANGWEI General Manager, Tajikistan Office China Road and Bridge Corporation “The high altitude results in permafrost year-round, posing a technical challenge for road construction. Additionally, the thin air at high altitudes presents health challenges for workers. Lastly, the Pamir is a very remote and underdeveloped area, where even power supply can be problematic.”

But, building a high-quality road here will be crucial if the region is to realize better development.

“Of course, China also has a lot to gain from the increased land trade connectivity with Tajikistan and, by extension, its neighboring states to the west.”

We stopped at a random remote bazaar. It was the last place I expected to hear the Chinese language.

“My Chinese name is Shanbo. (Shanbo? That’s your Chinese name?) Yeah. Shan is like, mountains right? Why do you choose Chinese language? Because in the future I want to be an interpreter in Chinese. Yeah.”

This may reflect how some locals are perceiving the economic opportunities from growing ties between China and Tajikistan. We experienced this modern upgrade to the ancient Silk Road, yet the underlying principle remains the same: fostering connectivity and facilitating trade and cultural exchange across vast distances, just as it did centuries ago. YCX, CGTN, DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN.

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NSN.Asia

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