China's Belt and Road ambitions spread to the Arctic

Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou speaks during a press conference at the State Council Information Office in Beijing Friday Jan. 26 2018. China is seeking to allay concerns about its increasingly prominent activities in the Arctic

China's new Arctic policy sheds light on Polar Silk Road

China on Friday outlined its plan to extend its Belt and Road initiative to the Arctic with the "Polar Silk Road".

China laid out for the first time its Arctic policy in a White Paper, at a time when global warming is creating new economic opportunities that are drawing other non-Arctic nations to the frigid polar region.

A top Chinese diplomat sought Friday to allay concerns about his country's increasingly prominent activities in the Arctic, saying Beijing won't interfere in the interests of nations in the region.

"China wants to play an important role, or even a leading role, in making the rules in the new spheres, since the traditional areas are already taken by the old powers", Jin said. "While pursuing its own interests, China will pay due regard to the interests of other countries and the broader global community".

It also makes note of China's willingness to work with all parties to build a Polar Silk Road by developing Arctic shipping routes.

According to the document, China is a "near-Arctic state" in geographical terms. The country has actively conducted studies on these routes and continuously strengthened hydrographic surveys to improve navigation, security and logistical capacities in the Arctic, the paper said.

It said China also eyes 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 the natural environment. Beijing is probably looking ahead to the creation of a similar worldwide framework regarding the use and development of the Arctic Circle.

And it is that China, in fact, does not have coasts in this ocean, the smallest in the world, that bathes Russian Federation, the United States, Canada, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark, nations that dispute the exploration and exploitation that They hide under those waters.

The trade project, officially known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR) or the Belt and Road Initiative, was loosely conceived as an attempt to rebuild the fabled Silk Road trade route that flourished until the 15th Century. Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou told reporters it was completely "unnecessary" to worry that Beijing had ulterior motives, or that it would plunder the Arctic's resources and destroy its environment.

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