China Seminar | 9 February 2006

The Silk Road by Southwest: Tea and Horse Caravan Road

MA Xingfei MA Xingfei
Tina QUAN Xiaoshu Tina QUAN Xiaoshu
Crystal SONG Jing Crystal SONG Jing

The Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road in southwest China, given its economic and cultural significance in Chinese history, has been regarded as the South Silk Road. It crosses high and dangerous terrain, spanning the two highest plateaus of China, before finally reaching India south of Himalayas. The history of the road dates to the Tang Dynasty (618-907A.D.), when tea and horses flourished in the trans-Asian commerce through the Tibeto-Himalayan region. The road served as a corridor between the Tang and Islamic Empires in the West. Cultural and ethnic contacts of immeasurable importance spanned this road. In September 2005, Xinhua News Agency organized a two-month special coverage of the road, titled “Retracing the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road”, the first of such large-scale coverage by any Chinese media. Twelve Xinhua reporters, starting from Yunnan and Sichuan and following the two major routes of the road, covered the cultural and ethnic characteristic as well as economic changes in the regions traversed by the road. The hazardous journey almost took the lives of two of the reporters.

Ms. Ma (Sports News), Quan (Home News for Overseas Service) and Song (English Desk International Department) are journalists from Xinhua News Agency. For 2005-06 they are enrolled in the Parvin Program of the School of Communications at the University of Hawaii under the direction of Prof. Gerald Kato.