• January 30, 2015

New Chapter of the Maritime Silk Road—Remarks by Ambassador Yu Fulong for SOHAR Port and Freezone

China-Oman friendship dates back to ancient times. In the 7th century, the Maritime Silk Road wound its way from East Asia to Arabian Peninsula and to East Africa, stringing up numerous ports along the way. From that time, this ancient thoroughfare had fostered close political, economic, trade and cultural interactions between the two countries. The legendary Sindbad, hero of the “Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor”, one of the most famous tales in the One Thousand and One Nights, is based on an Omani adventurer who traveled from Sohar to southern China in the 8th century.

Sohar is often claimed to be the birthplace of the legendary Sindbad. And with the development of Sohar Port and Freezone, Sohar not only boasts the historic seafaring prowess, but also serves as a centre of global trade routes between Asia and Europe in modern times.


Remarkable development has been achieved in Sohar under the wise policy adopted by the government of H.M. Sultan Qaboos. It has become the largest and most important port of the Sultanate. The opening of Sohar airport gives more impetus to the cargo movement in and out. The undergoing GCC railway system and new roads to Riyadh will boost Sohar’s hinterland connectivity to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, raising its profile as a competitive gateway into the GCC, as well as to the rest of the world.

With the global economy entering a period of profound, post financial crisis readjustment, connectivity is a common pursuit undertaken by many developing countries. As our forefathers opened up the Silk Road from its early beginning, we are convinced that strengthening connectivity is consistent with the trend of times, representing a common necessity for the international community. Drawing inspiration from the traditional good relationship with foreign countries of the region, China has proposed a major initiative of building the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” (or “the Belt and the Road” in short) which entails transport connectivity, trade facilitation, and cultural exchanges between countries along the Silk Road both on land and sea. Consolidating the values and spirit of “peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, and mutual benefit”, this initiative will achieve common development among relevant countries.

As for regional partners, there is enormous cooperation potential and development prospect from this initiative. They will be provided with broader market, more abundant capital, and more affluent products from China. At the same time, they may benefit from China’s expertise in infrastructure development by working jointly in projects such as road, railway, aviation, maritime shipping, energy, pipeline, telecommunication, etc. The key pilot zones for free trade and selected ports can serve as testing grounds for such cooperation. With historical connections via the ancient Maritime Silk Road and deepening relations in the new decade, we are expecting great opportunities in Sohar Port and Freezone to build an even closer network of transport and trade between East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, which will in turn enable the completion of logistical and industrial chain covering the region.

Let us pool our wisdom and resources, work together to write a new chapter of the Maritime Silk Road.

Yu Fulong is Chinese Ambassador to Oman.