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China’s Polar Silk Road

China’s Polar Silk Road

Why in news?

  • As the ice-covered parts of the Arctic Ocean melt due to climate change, China has flagged its interest to take part in building “Polar Silk Road”, raising prospects for the emergence of a new sea route.
  • China has outlined its ambitions to extend Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing new shipping lanes that have emerged in recent times
  • China released a ‘White Paper’ in 2018 clearing his intentions to expand its multibillion-dollar belt and road initiative (BRI) to arctic region as well.

What Is Polar Silk Road (PSR)?

  • China has flagged its interest to take part in building “Polar Silk Road”, raising prospects for the emergence of a new sea route
  • It is china’s over ambitious initiative to connect atlantic and pacific oceans.
  • 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.

Significance of Arctic region | China’s Polar Silk Road

  • It is estimated that beneath the layers of ice, highly prized reservoirs of minerals exist.
  • The Arctic has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with higher temperatures pushing sea ice into a loop of melting and thinning.
  • Since 1980, the amount of summer ice in cubic kilometers has decreased by an estimated 75 percent.
  • Climate change is increasingly opening up the Northwest Passage, an Arctic sea route north of the Canadian mainland.
  • This region accounts for around 13% of undiscovered oil reserves.
  • It is estimated that 30% of undiscovered natural gas reserves and 20% undiscovered natural gas liquids are in arctic region.

How will it benefit China? | China’s Polar Silk Road

  • Navigation: this new channel will help in reducing maritime travel time from china through Russia to Europe. Currently, through suez canal, it takes around 48 days of travel time but with this polar silk road, it will take only 35 days of travelling time. This will help in saving time as well as fuel.
  • Connectivity: Talks are on in Chinese government to build a 10,500 km fibre-optic undersea link across the Arctic Circle. The enterprise, called the Northeast Passage Cable Project, will provide China a new high-speed digital traffic link.
  • Among its increasing interests in the region is its major stake in russia’s Yamal LNG Project which is expected to supply china with 4 million tonnes of LNG a year.
  • China also eyes development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-fossil energies, tourism and fishing in the region.

Challenges | China’s Polar Silk Road

  • The water around the poles remains frozen over for most of the year making it much harder to traverse.
  • There are 2 current arctic shipping routes- the northern sea route and the northwest passage which were chosen carefully. Now creating a third route can lead to disagreements from concerned countries.
  • China, despite being a non-Arctic state, is increasingly active in the polar region and became an observer member of the Arctic Council in 2013.


Mussoorie Times

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