China's Controversial Plan to Explore the Arctic "Polar Silk Road"
28 January, 2018, 01:08 | Author: Mable Gonzales
Before this release, China's Arctic interests were heavily focused on environmental issues i.e. the impacts of melting polar ice on China's continental and oceanic environment, and its impact for the country's agricultural development.
The creation of a "Polar Silk Road" would reap significant benefits for China - the state-run newspaper China Daily has reported that shipping through the Northern Sea Route would be almost three weeks quicker than the traditional route via the Suez Canal.
AN Arctic shipping shortcut could see goods from China reach Britain in half the current time.
In its first policy paper on the Arctic, Beijing acknowledges Chinese territory doesn't touch the Arctic Circle.
Xi first raised the idea of the "Polar Silk Road" in Moscow past year, unveiling a series of plans with Russian Federation in the Arctic that would be incorporated into the ever expanding "Belt and Road Initiative", a trade and infrastructure strategy spanning Asia, Africa, Europe and now Latin America.
"While pursuing its own interests, China will pay due regard to the interests of other countries and the broader worldwide community", the paper promised.
Being committed to the existing framework of global law and rules, China would like to build and maintain "a just, reasonable and well-organised Arctic governance system".
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"China hopes to work with all parties to build a "Polar Silk Road" through developing the Arctic shipping routes", the white paper said.
Chinese companies have been encouraged to participate in the infrastructural development of these routes and conduct commercial trial journeys in accordance with the law.
A report by the US State Department's International Security Advisory Board in 2016 said China's pursuit of energy resources in the Arctic conflicted with multinational efforts to protect the environment and limit the effects of climate change.
The marine environment is a key area for Arctic environmental protection.
The document said that Beijing will "enhance its ability to understand, protect and develop the Arctic, and participate in global cooperation in Arctic affairs".
However, the "China Policy for the Arctic" does recognise China's interests in oil, gas, minerals, fisheries and other resources of the region, but says it will seek to "develop them cooperatively with other Arctic nations and states".
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