China’s ancient Silk Road derived its name from the international silk trade carried out along routes between China and the Mediterranean in the first millennium. The goods were transported in large “camel caravans” in ancient times, but nowadays silk has been replaced by electrical and mechanical equipment while the camels have been overtaken by trucks, trains and planes. Total trading volume between China and Belt and Road countries stood at 953.59 billion US dollars in 2016, making up 25.7 percent of China’s total global trade, slightly up from 25.4 percent in 2015, amid sluggish global economic growth.

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