If there’s one thing we know about China, it’s that they always play the long game. In this case, we’re talking about China’s plans to establish a shipping route through the Arctic once global warming has made the region accessible to ships.
As described in the video below, such a route could cut up to 20 days from the current path between China and the major civilization centers of the Western Hemisphere. This would transform the future of maritime trade. Keep in mind that up to 80% of traded goods are transported by sea.
As outlined in its official Arctic Policy, China’s goals for the region are to ‘understand, protect, develop, and participate in the governance of the Arctic and to promote sustainable development of the region.’
Later in the text, China actually defines itself as a near-Arctic state entitled to the following:
- Scientific research
- Freedom of navigation and air routes
- Laying of underwater cables and pipelines
- Exploring and extracting natural resources
According to our best estimates, the Arctic contains 13% of the world’s oil reserves and 30% of gas reserves.
China understands that the success of an Arctic shipping route will depend heavily on cooperation from Russia. China has been courting Russia as a partner for years. Companies from Russia, Finland, and China have already signed on to China’s “Arctic Connect” project. This is a plan that calls for nearly 5,000 miles of undersea cable connecting China to Northern Europe. Thanks to a treaty signed decades ago, China already has research stations in Norway and Iceland and a satellite station in Sweden.
Any efforts to hinder the Chinese incursion will be up to the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council is a group of nations including the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. They must begin now, though China’s strategy will be hard to thwart as it is rooted in international maritime law.
Check out the following video to learn more about China’s plans for the Arctic and how they threaten to reshape the future of maritime trade. “Arctic Silk Road” was published by Good Times Bad Times, a YouTube channel that tackles global issues from the fields of geopolitics, international relations, economy, and technology.