Thursday, January 5, 2017

By Land, If Not By Sea

An approach George Friedman didn't consider in his Geopolitical Futures article (see below) on Chinese reactions to possible trade embargoes and blockades is reflected in an article in This Is Money from the U.K. It reports on China's efforts to build a land route to trade with western Europe.
A diesel engine has set off from the manufacturing town of Yiwu in east China bound for Barking in London with 34 carriages and £4million of socks, clothes, bags and suitcases in tow. The trip will take it over mountain ranges, around deserts and across the vast Russian steppe.

The goods will finally arrive in Britain via the Channel Tunnel in a fortnight, after crossing seven countries. It is part of China's One Belt, One Road initiative, aimed at reviving the fortunes of the ancient Silk Road.

But the goods will have to be moved on to a selection of different carriages en route due to several changes in the gauge of the railway.
As an alternate outlet for China's manufactured goods, the rail route makes a blockade slightly less threatening. Rationalizing the various rail gauges would go a long way toward making this route truly practical and a real alternative to shipment by sea. Expect to see work on this trackage issue go forward.