Brussels 17.05.2021 Rabban Bar Sauma left China in 1275, followed the Silk Road, and made his way to Baghdad, Constantinople, and France, meeting khans, kings, and a pope. The remarkable Bar Sauma was born in Zhongdu, China, in 1220. His ancestors were descendants of the Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group from Central Asia. Bar Sauma was brought up in the Nestorian faith, a Christian denomination that originated in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) when it broke away from the church in the fifth century. Nestorianism took root in Persia and then spread east to China.
The ilkhan elected Bar Sauma as head of a delegation to Europe to convince its leaders to join a military campaign against their common enemy. Then in his 60s, Bar Sauma began traveling west in 1287 on a new journey, with Constantinople as his first destination among many.
The Byzantine capital made a colossal impact on Bar Sauma. It was his first time in an entirely Christian city—and what a city it was—with its blend of Roman and Byzantine splendor. The Nestorian pilgrim was dazzled by the magnificent sight of Hagia Sophia, built seven centuries earlier by Emperor Justinian I.
From Constantinople he traveled to Italy in June 1287. His first stop was Rome, where he hoped to convince the pope to declare a new crusade to take the Holy Land from the Mamluks. Pope Honorius IV, however, had just died and his successor had not yet been chosen. Bar Sauma’s message would have to wait, so he made the most of his time waiting by visiting Rome’s basilicas and the relics of the holy figures he had so venerated in far-off China. After visiting the tomb of St. Paul and the Church of St. Peter in Chains, he set off to meet the French king Philip the Fair.
Switzerland has engaged in China‘s new Silk road project, or Belt and Road Initiative, concluding the talks with memorandum signatures of Swiss President Ueli Maurer and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping in Beijing.
The massive Chinese trade initiative involves the construction of ports, roads, railways and other infrastructure to upgrade commerce between China and the world.
“The aim is for both countries to expand cooperation on trade, investment and finance for projects in third countries along the routes” of the Belt and Road Initiative the Swiss government said in a statement.
The US has accused the New Silk Road of luring developing countries into debt by offering cheap financing they cannot afford.
Critics also warn that poorer countries could become politically dependent on China, and that Chinese companies seem to win many of the project contracts.
The biggest infrastructure project in the world. An estimated 60% of humanity, and 35% of the world’s economy will be included.
Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the Memorandum of understanding his government has scheduled to sign for China‘s Belt and Road Initiative during Chinese President Xi Jinping visit this week is risk free. The initiative is a huge infrastructure plan that aiming at construction of a modern Silk Road to connect China with Europe and Africa.
“The attention to economic and trade terms is totally legitimate,” Conte told the Parliament as he reported to the lawmakers ahead of this week’s EU Summit in Brussels. “And it is justified precisely because of our national interests. We can boost our exports to a market of an enormous size”, Prime Minister explained.
“The content of the memorandum, which was negotiated for months with China involving all the interested administrations, does not feature any risk for our national interest and is fully in line with the EU‘s strategy”, Conte ensured.
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $124 billion for his ambitious new Silk Road plan, saying everyone was welcome to join what he described would be a path for peace and prosperity for the world.
China has touted what it formally calls the Belt and Road initiative as a new way to boost development since Xi put forward the plan in 2013, aiming to expand trade between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.
“We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy,” Xi told the opening of a summit on the new Silk Road.
“We should jointly create an environment that will facilitate opening up and development, establish a fair, equitable and transparent system of international trade and investment rules,” he added.