The Great Tea Road has served as an economic and cultural bridge between China, Russia and Europe for several centuries and can still play a special role in uniting people today, according to Sergey Kalashnikov, chairman of the presidium of the Russian Association for International Cooperation (RAIC), vice-chairman of the Trans-Pacific Partnership "Great Silk Road", in an interview with Xinhua News Agency, a partner of TV BRICS.
"The very project of promoting tea from China to the West had many important factors. Firstly, it was the construction of a certain economic-political corridor of rapprochement between the West and the East. And most importantly, the Great Tea Road provided a gentle promotion of Chinese culture. In other words, it was building a very important bridge between East and West. And the bearer of that bridge was tea," he said.
The Great Tea Road, with a total length of more than 13,000 kilometres, ran from the Wuyi Shanmai district in China's Fujian province to St Petersburg in Russia and beyond to the West. It existed from the 17th century until the beginning of the 20th century. As Kalashnikov noted, the Great Tea Road, which was created as a special route of the Great Silk Road, was and continues to be a "soft power" and "It unites people", emphasised the agency's spokesperson.
In addition, Chinese tea has had a colossal impact on the daily life and culture of the people of Russia. Tea eventually became a unique product that, on the one hand, satisfied domestic needs for a universal drink. And on the other hand, tea was certainly more affordable in Russia than in Europe. So it became firmly established in Russian culture. In fact, it can be said that tea has definitely become a national drink for Russia.
The initiative to revive the Great Tea Road, according to the RAIC chairman, is of particular importance today. "On the basis of established traditional processes, new solutions are created for issues not only of today, but of tomorrow. I consider the Great Tea Road to be a cultural thread of the Belt and Road Initiative, without which its realisation will not be complete," noted Kalashnikov.
He recalled that in 2014, the International Consortium of the Great Tea Road, which brings together representatives from China, Russia and Mongolia, presented an initiative to include the Great Tea Road on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Kalashnikov said that a lot of work has been done in recent years, which has not been interrupted even during the pandemic. He is confident that further promotion of the project to recreate the Great Tea Road will not only strengthen cultural ties, but will also bring in modern elements of the economy, including the development of tourism and the service sector.Photo: IStock