Arctic shipping: China unveils plans for new Polar Silk Road

China's Vice Foreign Minister, Kong Xuanyou, unveiled new white paper on China's Arctic Policy at press conference today China's Vice Foreign Minister, Kong Xuanyou, unveiled new white paper on China's Arctic Policy at press conference today

JANUARY 26, 2018 — China plans to develop new Arctic shipping routes as part of a "Polar Silk Road."

Unveiled in a white paper on Arctic policy published today by the State Council Information Office, the Polar Silk Road is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative that aims to make China the hub of a network of land and sea trade lanes.

With global warming making the Arctic more accessible to shipping, "China, as a responsible major country, is ready to cooperate with all relevant parties to seize the historic opportunity in the development of the Arctic, to address the challenges brought by the changes in the region," says the white paper.

The country would like to "jointly understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic, and advance Arctic-related cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative," according to the white paper.

"While pursuing its own interests, China will pay due regard to the interests of other countries and the broader international community," says the white paper.

The Xinhua news agency reports that Kong Xuanyou, vice foreign minister, told a press conference today that China's participation in the development of the Arctic was a contribution that would bring about development opportunities and social benefits.

"It is completely unnecessary to doubt our intentions or worry about plundering of resources or destruction of the environment," Kong said.

He also said countries in the Arctic had set high thresholds and standards on environmental protection, labor use, and commercial utilization during the development of the Arctic.

"We will abide by relevant standards and laws and make active contributions to the economic development and people's welfare of Arctic society," Xinhua reports him as saying..

According to Xinhua, China hopes to work with all parties to build a "Polar Silk Road" through developing Arctic shipping routes.

Chinese enterprises are encouraged to participate in infrastructure development for these routes and conduct commercial trial voyages in line with the law.

Great importance will be placed on navigation security. China has actively conducted studies on these routes and continuously strengthened hydrographic surveys to improve navigation, security and logistics in the Arctic.

China is also eyeing development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-fossil energies, fishing and tourism in the region, jointly with Arctic states, while respecting the tradition and culture of Arctic residents, including indigenous peoples, and conserving natural environment.

"China stands for steadily advancing international cooperation on the Arctic," the white paper says.

Xinhua reports vice foreign minister Kong as saying thatChina maintains that the management of Arctic shipping routes should be conducted in accordance with treaties including UNCLOS and general international law and that the freedom of navigation enjoyed by all countries in accordance with the law and their rights to use the Arctic shipping routes should be ensured.

Read the full text of the white paper China's Arctic Policy HERE

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