MOSCOW, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Seventy-year-old Yuri Tavrovsky hit a wall during a lecture in 2013 when asked about the modern rendition of the Silk Road. The China expert could recite details of the historical road with ease but knew little of the massive transformation the route was set to undertake. He decided something had to be done.
Encouraged by an old friend, Tavrovsky decided to return to China and revisit the Silk Road in its modern form.
Tavrovsky and his wife have visited China five times since 2015. Setting off in Shanghai, they headed west, taking photos and making copious notes. His research was published in August 2017 in his book One Belt, One Road: Traveling Westward.
"I'm certainly not the first to write about the Silk Road," said Tavrovsky. "But works of my predecessors were written a long time ago."
Tavrovsky shared his stories with a crowd of students at Saint Petersburg State University.
"I didn't have such good opportunities to study in China at the time, as you do today," Tavrovsky said. "Also it was hard to imagine that China could have such a rejuvenation as we see today."
As one of the most influential scholars in Russia on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, Tavrovsky was invited to lecture at his alma mater where he graduated 48 years ago.
After his graduation from the faculty of Oriental Studies, Tavrovsky became a reporter for state television. He visited China many times, produced several programs, and became an expert on the history of the Silk Road.
After retiring in 2009, Tavrovsky was later invited to teach at the People's Friendship University of Russia.
"I really hope that young students can cultivate some interests in the Silk Road and China, and pass on their aspirations for and love of China and Chinese civilization to future generations," he said.
In the book, Tavrovsky introduced Lianyungang, the starting point of the New Eurasian Land Bridge, and Zhengzhou, a key transportation hub, and Alashankou, a westward gateway to Europe. The book also describes the development of China's economy and enterprises.
"In the time of complexity and contradiction, the Belt and Road Initiative strengthens ties between nations of the world," Tavrovsky wrote in the book. "It is of historical significance that matters to the progress of all civilization."