All about China's Polar Silk Road in the Arctic Ocean: Significance, Prospects and Challenges
China's Polar Silk Road: Why in News?
China has elaborate plans to move towards the Arctic region. It had also published a white paper on this in early 2018. A Polar Silk Road would be built and would be integrated with the country's multi billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
China's Polar Silk Road:
- China has flagged its interest to take part in building “Polar Silk Road”, raising prospects for the emergence of a new sea route
- It was quoted in the draft outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025)
- China has revealed that it would be good for national economic and social development and the long-range objectives to the year 2035
- The route would be starting from Dalian and would cover the whole Pacific Ocean to Arctic Ocean to meet Rotterdam in Netherlands.
- Three oceans namely, Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Ocean would be covered
Polar Silk Road: Why Now?
- The ice covered parts of the Arctic Ocean would melt due to global warming which has given China a reason to go ahead with a project it talked about three years ago.
- China would now participate in a pragmatic cooperation on the Arctic and build a Polar Silk Road as a part of their 14th Five year plan for national economic and social development and its long term objectives till 2035.
- The plans have been submitted to National People's Congress (Parliament of China)
- There are two major routes that exist through the arctic ocean. These are also used by Russia.
- These are called the Northwest Passage route and Northern Sea Route respectively.
- The route that is used by Russia is the Northern Sea Route that passes from Yokohama to Rotterdam passing from Pacific to Indian Ocean to the Atlantic.
- The Northwest passage is used by Canada, Denmark and Greenland through the Atlantic to Pacific from Rotterdam to San Francisco.
- Polar Silk Route would be the third route that would be passing through the North pole or closer to it.
Polar Silk Road: Prospects and Challenges
- For China it would significantly reduce distances for global trade
- However, the Arctic Ocean remains frozen over most of the year. It would be harder to travel for the sea routers than the other two routes used currently.
- Among its increasing interests in the Arctic, its major stake in Russia's Yamal LNG project is expected to be supplied at reduced costs. China also has its eyes on various oil, gas and mineral resources found in the Arctic.
- China is not an Arctic state but has been increasing the activities in the Polar region. It also became an observer member of the Arctic Council in 2013.
Arctic Council Members:
- Faroe Islands
- United States
The Arctic Council is a high level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues that are faced by the Arctic Governments and indigenous people of the Arctic. China is basically required to convince all members of the Arctic Council to implement this process. India is also a part of the observer states of the Council.