The Silk Road in the West: Lebanon’s Industrial History and Current Prospects for Partnership with China
Several decades before World War I a large proportion of the economy of Lebanon was based on the manufacture and sale of silk. The origin of the Lebanese silk industry can be traced to the Silk Road trade, yet today little is known of this history due to the collapse of the industry shortly before and during the war. This paper outlines the relationship between Lebanon and the Silk Road, the rise of the silk industry, the economic and cultural impact of the industry on the Lebanese people, and the industry’s demise. Finally, the paper discusses the prospects for a renewal of interest in silk in Lebanon, and for a revival of ties between Lebanon and China.
The author would like to thank the following people: Ms. Fung Ying Cham, Deputy College Librarian at Hong Kong Baptist University–Beijing Normal University United International College, for her extraordinary support in providing critical research material for this paper; Dr. Victor Rodriguez, Associate Professor and Acting Director, SINO-US College, Beijing Institute of Technology Zhuhai, China, and Dr. Kelly Inglis, Dr. Nazrul Islam and Dr. Wong Wei Chin, my colleagues in the General Education Office of United International College, for their insights and guidance essential to the revision of this paper; Ms. Yan Siqi for her assistance in researching Chinese–language sources for this paper.
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