14 October 2015
“The granaries in all the towns are brimming with reserves, and the coffers are full with treasures and gold, worth trillions,” wrote Sima Qian, a Chinese historian living in the 1st century BC. “There is so much money that the ropes used to string coins together rot and break, an innumerable amount. The granaries in the capital overflow and the grain goes bad and cannot be eaten.”
He was describing the legendary surpluses of the Han dynasty, an age characterised by the first Chinese expansion to the west and south, and the establishment of trade routes later known as the Silk Road, which stretched from the old capital Xi’an to as far as ancient Rome.
Fast forward a millennia or two, and the same talk of expansion comes as China’s surpluses grow again. There are no ropes to hold its US$4 trillion (S$5.6 trillion) in foreign currency reserves — the world’s largest — and in addition to overflowing granaries China has massive surpluses of real estate, cement and steel.
… “The Silk Road has been part of Chinese history dating back to the Han and Tang dynasties, two of the greatest Chinese empires,” says Mr Friedrich Wu, a professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “The initiative is a timely reminder that China under the Communist Party is building a new empire.”
CMS / Online / Print
Last updated on 13/11/2015