Iraq: Hope for Re­cov­ery on the ‘New Silk Road’

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS -

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.

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