Since silk ceased to travel that road, its economic significance has not revived. Oil and gas pipelines, mostly heading East, are the route’s  most important economic future users. No doubt the strategies to be discussed will  involve those. But the SCO’s significance is largely political, and its substance depends on what Russia and China end up doing with or to one another.

I doubt whether the agenda will include the possibility of re-establishing the freedom of travel that existed under the Great Khan. I wonder where these countries’  people would move if they were free to.  Unlike the Mongols, none of the participants are liberal enough to want to find out.

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