Mountains in the Chaning World, Mountains in the Chaning World

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China is moving the mountains literally: The dynamics of New Silk Road

Last modified: 2017-08-30


ABSTRACT: China doesn’t lack money — it lacks a reverence for the environment.

On the westernmost fringe of China’s western outpost of Xinjiang, the 1,000-mile border with Kazakhstan passes barely noticed among the pastures and mountain peaks, dotted with nomadic yurts and an uneasy mix of 56 ethnic groups including the Uyghur plurality, is being held up as China’s bridgehead into Central Asia and Europe with President Xi Jinping plans to construct a new Silk Road for international trade stretching from the eastern sprawl of Shanghai and Beijing through Xinjiang to Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Afghanistan before snaking into central and western Europe. The plan taking shape re-imagines dusty towns such as Tacheng, just over 10 miles from the Sino-Kazakh border, and new settlements like Horgos as land-ports for everything from tomatoes to cement mixers to make their way west.

The stakes in building this province are raised further by persistent unrest among small numbers of people from Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities, who feel their way of life and stake in the area have been left behind by decades of construction, first to fortify the border region and now to open it up again. At the Kazakh border, the Silk Road push is changing the landscape. A rotating cast of Communist Party members, who move to the region for a year or two to learn about agriculture, are trying to persuade more than 100 families living in nomadic tents in the hills to move into purpose-built homes in a new village.

The Chinese gateway to the ancient Silk Road is being flooded – and the culprit, researchers say, is climate change. Melting glaciers sitting above the Hexi corridor in Gansu province, once an important trading and military route into Central Asia, are fuelling dramatic regional floods.

This paper focuses on how China’s new silk road project is moving the mountains literally and how this movement of mountains will move the life of people and geography of the region in a very drastic way as it has been predicted by various reports that a major problem for the coming century: around the world, arid regions that sit next to glaciers will suffer a spate of floods, then dry up completely when the glaciers melt away.

KEY WORDS: China, Climate Change, Mountains, New Silk Road.

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