By Daniel Otto
Although Zhang Qian died over 2000 years ago, he remains famous in China. An adventurous imperial diplomat and envoy, Zhang is remembered for charting routes and traversing central Asia thereby opening China to the outside world.
Zhang’s exploits established a network of routes that eventually linked China to central Asia, the Arab world, Europe and Africa. Through these craggy routes, China started to trade with the rest of the world. Named after silk, China’s biggest export at the time, that road network was later dubbed the “Silk Road”.