La ruta de la plata

China, Spanish America and globalisation

La ruta de la plata today

Latin America, like much of the world, is currently experiencing a ‘pivot to Asia’, or perhaps it’s really a pivot back. One canal ready see the possible beginnings of a modern Ruta de la plata taking shape. There is, as history echoes down the centuries, considerable emphasis on transportation infrastructure and natural resources.

The Silver Way can in some ways be seen as the successor to the Silk Road and in both cases, a single commodity acted to bind disparate regions and peoples; the trade routes thus created were both engines of development and conduits for culture, philosophies and religions.

The Silk Road provides an attractive paradigm for the arrangement of China’s relations with its neighbours. It evokes a time when China was economically dominant but not hegemonic: Chinese interests were well-defined, but allowed other parties to prosper. The Pacific route also has historical validity and the potential to offer China a non-Anglo-American, if not quite non-Western, paradigm for arranging its relations with the countries to its east. The Silk Road went west from China over land. The Ruta de la plata went east by sea. They are nevertheless fundamentally similar.