Iraq: Hope for Recovery on the ‘New Silk Road’
Iraq is located in West Asia, to the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the south, Turkey to the north, Syria to the northwest, Iran to the east and Jordan to the west. The Mesopotamia Valley (Mesopotamia) was one of the cradles of ancient civilisation, with city-states having appeared there in 4700 BC. In 2000 BC, Mesopotamia was successively ruled by the Akkadian Empire, Third Dynasty of Ur, Assyrian Empire and Neo-babylonian Empire.
There are historic sites all over Iraq, including the famous ancient cities of Seleucia, Nineveh and Ashur on the Tigris River. Located 90km southwest of Baghdad, Babylon (“gateway of the gods”) was one of the birthplaces of human civilisation, equal to ancient China, India and Egypt. The ancient city of Babylon was founded in 3000 BC and served as the capital of several empires. Babylonian civilisation flourished during the reign of Hammurabi (1792–1750 BC). The world's earliest written legal code— The Code of Hammurabi—appeared at this time. The world-famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon were created during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II (AD 604–562 BC). Encircled by a high wall, the gardens contained a series of overhanging terraces and were filled with a wide variety of exotic plants that were watered by an underground irrigation system.
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, its largest city and the country's economic, cultural and transport centre. The city is home to industries such as oil refining, steel, cement, textiles, leather, cigarettes, food and other sectors. It also features Mustansiriyah University, which was established in 1227 and was once the highest seat of learning in the Arab world. Baghdad is situated in the drainage basins of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and its name means “bestowed by God” in Old Persian. Having been founded over 4,000 years ago, it became the capital of the Arab Empire in AD 762, and for centuries has been a centre of economy, trade, culture and transportation.
China and Iraq are two of the world's oldest civilisations. A richly historical and cultural country, Iraq brought a wealth of exhibits to this year's “Colourful World” event. These included a wide range of date palm products, images of historical and cultural landscapes, and magazines introducing reconstruction and investment projects in Iraq.
The Iraq booth featured a unique photograph of the famous Ishtar Gate among the items it presented. Babylon was once the greatest city in the ancient world. It was surrounded by two thick walls that featured towers and the Euphrates River flowed through the centre of town. Ishtar Gate was the most important entrance into the city, which featured two doors and four watchtowers. The gate's walls were covered with coloured, glazed bricks in yellows, browns and blacks set against a blue background and decorated with lions, bulls and divine animals in relief, creating a highly decorative effect.
China and Iraq have traditionally been friendly, and their economies are highly complementary. Political trust between the two countries has continuously deepened since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1958. In 2015, China and Iraq established a strategic partnership, and Iraq became one of the first countries to sign a cooperation agreement regarding the creation of the modern Belt and Road. In recent years, bilateral economic and trade cooperation has been affected by war. The Belt and Road framework and the complementary advantages between the two countries have helped achieve positive results though. Oil, electricity and transportation projects are also expanding.