Traveling China’s New Silk Road

Chinese civilization has historically been centered on its fertile east. Its expansion into the deserts of Central Asia creates fresh geopolitical opportunities for Beijing—and new dangers.

Issue: September-October 2015

THE THOUSANDS of terra-cotta warriors from the third-century-BC Qin Dynasty, first unearthed in the mid-1970s, constitute one of the wonders of the world. I stared down into the vast clay pit where these life-sized soldiers, no two of them exactly alike, stand in a state of freeze-frame marching. They are all headed east. For Qin, though in the heart of today’s China, had been the westernmost of the Warring States. Thus, to the east lay all of Qin’s enemies.

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