China’s Progress in Arctic Maritime Silk Road, Silk Road Economic Belt

The Arctic countries are said to be open to investment from China. Photo: AFP

The Arctic countries are said to be open to investment from China. Photo: AFP

In my post “China Coming Into the Arctic: Shaping a Flanking Strategy” on June 15, I said, “China is not an Arctic country but tries hard to take a share of the benefits in melting Arctic in resource exploitation, trade routes, etc.”

What progress China has made since June?

SCMP describes China’s successes there in its article “China’s plan for the Arctic – and a shipping centre to rival Singapore” yesterday.

The shipping route to Europe through the Arctic is 6,400 km shorter and much more safer from being cut by US navy as it goes along the coast of China’s de facto ally Russia. However, SCMP says, “Yet only a little over 15 ships did so (traveled along the Arctic route) this summer. This is because the challenges are still immense: ice-locked much of the year without any major stopping-off points – or indeed any deep-sea ports at all – the sparsely charted waters remain fraught with icebergs, dangerous shallows and other hazards that bump up insurance premiums even in ‘ice-free’ conditions.”

To facilitate shipping, China has accepted tender for building a homegrown icebreaker in addition to the Xue Long it has imported. In addition, China plans to invest in construction of infrastructures for shipping along the route. That will be Silk Road economic belt initiative in addition to maritime Silk Road.

For such belt, in addition to joint oil and gas exploration with Russia, according to SCMP, China’s Shenghe Resources has recently taken a 12.51 per cent stake in Greenland Minerals and Energy to become its largest individual shareholder. The purchase agreement provides that as soon as the Greenland firm’s flagship Kvanefjeld project enters the development stage, Shenghe is allowed to raise its stake to 60%. With such substantial participation in Greenland’s mining, China may have significant influence in Greenland if Greenland becomes independent from Denmark.

As Russia and all the small Arctic countries want Chinese investment, it is hopeful for China to become a major Arctic player gradually.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be found at