by Xinhua writers Lyu Qiuping and Li Chunhui
GUIYANG, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The ancient Silk Road once connected the East and West by traversing through desert. Two thousand years later, countries along the road are striving to revive the path together, but in a "green" way.
At the ongoing annual conference of the Eco Forum Global held in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, former or current leaders and experts from around the world agreed the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt should not repeat history by pursuing development at the cost of the environment.
"The ancient kingdom of Loulan has been buried in desert, and historic towns and architecture have fallen into ruins. We must learn lessons from history and never make the same mistake," said Dai Bingguo, former Chinese state councillor.
Loulan, also called Kroraina, was one of the pivotal stops along the Silk Road, located in what is now northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It gradually became a wild desert region around the 3rd Century A.D.
Dai said the Chinese government is drafting a plan to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, emphasizing construction of an "ecological civilization."
Last year, President Xi Jinping proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road during his visits to Kazakhstan in September and Indonesia in October, and was echoed by many other governments.
As most of the countries involved are developing countries, a key issue is balancing development and environmental protection, he said.
Because of rapid industrialization and urbanization, countries like China are facing growing pressure from the environment. Chinese people increasingly complain about smoggy weather, polluted water and chemical projects that may threaten their living environment.
"Apart from peace, security, development and job security, most of the countries along the Silk Road have agreed that the common goal of sound ecology is equally important," Dai said, adding the common goal is expected to promote international cooperation on environmental protection, he said.
Two thousand years ago, Zhang Qian, a diplomat of the Han Dynasty, was dispatched as envoy to the Western Regions, or today's central and west Asia, which later contributed to the exploration of the Silk Road. Six hundred years ago, Zheng He, a noted navigator of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), was sent overseas as envoy at the head of a large fleet on seven voyages, the longest of which took him to the equator on the eastern African coast. Both of their trips greatly boosted cultural and economic exchange and development between China and other countries, contributing to world civilization and progress.
Unlike Western navigators, whose voyages ended up in colonization, Zheng He and his crew members strengthened trade development with other countries based on China's culture of unity and moderation, said former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.