This paper argues that contrary to popular belief, in the bygone era, there was not one but two Silk Roads in Asia – the Northern and the less well-known South-western Silk Road (SSR). The SSR connected South/Central Asia with southern China and present day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). After enjoying a rich history of around 1,600 years, the Silk Roads went into disrepair. Now, for various economic, security, and political reasons, land connectivity is once again making a comeback in Asia. These include the (i) “Go West” and the recent “New Silk Roads” policies of China; (ii) “Look East” policies of South Asia; (iii) opening of Myanmar, a node between South Asia and East Asia; and (iv) growing importance of supply-chain trade. The focus has, however, been mainly on reviving the Northern Silk Road with relatively few actions being initiated to revive the SSR. Mirroring the on-going efforts in the Greater Mekong Sub-region and the Central Asian region, this paper proposes four economic corridors for Pan-Asian connectivity that is to connect South/Central Asia with southern China and ASEAN. The paper argues that the revival of land connectivity in Asia is making Maritime Asia of the past, more continental-based. One implication is that regional institutions focusing solely on Maritime Asia, such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), may be losing some of their relevance vis-à-vis say the more continental-based China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The other is that the influence of the West in Asia’s security may be declining relative to that of China, India, and Russia.
About the Authors
Dr Pradumna B. Rana is an Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He is also the Coordinator of the Master of Science in International Political Economy programme and the Coordinator of the Economic Multilateralism and Regionalism Studies at RSIS’ Centre for Multilateralism Studies. Prior to this, he worked for 25 years at the Asian Development Bank. His last appointment at the ADB was Senior Director of the Office of Regional Economic Integration which spearheads ADB’s support for Asian economic integration. He obtained his PhD from Vanderbilt University where he was a Fulbright Scholar and a Masters in Economics from Michigan State University and Tribhuvan University. He has authored/edited 15 books, and published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed international academic journals.
Dr Wai-Mun Chia obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of London with First Class Honors in 1996. She was then awarded the Datuk Paduka Hajjah Saleha Ali Academic Outstanding Award for her exceptional academic performance at international level in 1997. In 1998, with the support of the London School of Economics (LSE) Scholarship, she pursued her Master’s degree at LSE. In 2006, she graduated with a PhD degree from NTU. She is currently assistant professor at the Division of Economics, NTU. Prior to joining NTU, she was an industry analyst at the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers. Her current research interests are international macroeconomics, economic integration in East Asia and cost-benefit analysis. She is an associate editor to the Singapore Economic Review and a research consultant to the ASEAN Secretariat. She has published widely in internationally reputable journals such as Economic Record and Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.
Country and Region Studies / East Asia and Asia Pacific / International Political Economy / Regionalism and Multilateralism / South Asia / Southeast Asia and ASEAN / Working Papers
Last updated on 01/10/2015