The Maritime Silk Road was once a main path for Guangdong’s trading with the outside world. Recently, the road has become a hot topic after Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the “Belt and Road” initiative three years ago. So far, more than 100 countries (regions) and international organizations have taken part in the Initiative.
Guangdong is the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road, which extends all the way to Belgium and the Netherlands. Under the imitative, these three places have cooperated in creating new infrastructure and investment.
Map of "Belt and Road Initiative" (File picture)
A bit of the history...
For a short period, around 200 years ago, it became fashionable for Europeans to decorate their homes with Chinese wallpaper.
The "made in Guangdong" wallpaper collected in MOA
Examples of this trend can be seen in the Museum Oud Amelisweerd (MOA) in Utrecht Province, the Netherlands. Inside the museum, one room is decorated with centuries-old Chinese wallpaper, complete with images of dragon boats, Chinese pavilions and the Chinese royal family’s hunting games. The wallpaper was made in Guangdong, then travelled for months on the Maritime Silk Road before finally arriving at the Netherlands and being used for decoration.
The wallpaper shows the Chinese dragon boats racing
However, after a while, fashions changed, and wallpaper made in Guangdong fell in popularity. Luckily, the wallpaper in MOA has been well preserved, and serves as proof of this once-existing fashion and the early trade between Guangdong and the Netherlands on the Maritime Silk Road.
As a coastal province in Southern China, Guangdong has had close trading contact with Europe since 230 BC, via the Maritime Silk Road, where products such as silk, porcelain, and works of art were transported by sea from Guangdong to Western countries.
A painting collected in National Maritime Museum, United Kingdom shows Thirteen Facories, the trading port in Guangzhou (File photo)
Guangzhou, also known as Canton, has always been regarded as the biggest trading port in China, from as early as the Tang Dynasty until the present day.