Beijing unveils vision of ‘Polar Silk Road’
New Arctic policy to advance cooperation under Belt and Road Initiative
China’s first official Arctic policy white paper was released on Friday, laying out a vision for a “Polar Silk Road.”
The paper links cooperation in the Arctic region to China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), pledging to participate in accordance with the basic principles of “respect, cooperation, win-win result and sustainability,” Xinhua quoted the white paper as saying.
“While pursuing its own interests, China will pay due regard to the interests of other countries and the broader international community,” the paper stressed.
The policy will encourage Chinese firms to participate in infrastructure development for Arctic shipping routes, according to the paper, and conduct commercial trial voyages. China is also looking at the development of oil, gas, minerals and other non-fossil fuels, as well as fishing and tourism in the region.
The release of the paper comes as Finnish and Norwegian officials review a report on an ambitious plan to build a railway that could serve as a gateway to the BRI, as Asia Times reports Friday.
Supporters of the plan hope that the project will be approved by March.
A big selling point for what has been dubbed a “maritime silk route in the north,” is that it could reduce sailing distance of current routes between Asia and Europe by 40%, according to the report, titled “Vision for an Arctic Railroad.”
Finnish Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner has said that talks last year between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have created momentum for an “ice-Silk Road.”