Seven years ago, when living in Southern Kyrgyzstan, I met a German tourist who had tried to cycle south through the mountains from the capital city, Bishkek. He had taken the Eastern road leading from Issyk Kul to Jalalabad. The road was marked on the map, but it was actually a secondary track paved in stone, which had cost him several tires and a great deal of anger.
That was 2011. Today, that track has been replaced by an eight-lane highway, traveled by trucks transporting Chinese products to Central Asia and beyond, toward the Middle East and Europe. China built and paid for the highway. It is a small portion of what the Chinese calls “One belt, one road” (in Chinese yi dai, yi lu), a modern version of the ancient Silk Road.
This new Silk Road should again lead the countries of Central Asia to the core of the economic and political arena. In ancient times, these countries constituted a true world economic power.