The Polar Silk Road Comes to Life as a New Epoch in History Begins


Matthew Ehret
May 16, 2019

Speaking at China’s second Belt and Road conference in Beijing featuring 37 heads of state, Russia President Vladimir Putin unveiled the intention to unite Russia’s Northern Sea Route with China’s Maritime Silk Road. This announcement should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the close strategic friendship between both countries since the 2015 announcement of an alliance between the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and Belt and Road Initiative. This extension of the Maritime Silk Road represents a powerful force to transform the last unexplored frontier on the Earth, converting the Arctic from a geopolitical zone of conflict towards a new paradigm of mutual cooperation and development.

Putin gave a speech at the BRI forum on April 26 stating:

“the Great Eurasian Partnership and Belt and Road concepts are both rooted in the principles and values that everyone understands: the natural aspiration of nations to live in peace and harmony, benefit from free access to the latest scientific achievements and innovative development, while preserving their culture and unique spiritual identity. In other words, we are united by our strategic, long-term interests.”

Weeks before this speech Russia unveiled a bold plan for Arctic development during the conference Arctic: Territory of Dialogue on April 9-10. This bold plan ties to the “Great Eurasian Partnership”, not only extending roads, rail and new cities into the Far East, but also extending science and civilization into a terrain long thought totally inhospitable. At this Arctic conference, China and Russia signed the first scientific cooperation agreement together setting up the “China-Russia Arctic Research Center” as a part of the Polar Silk Road.

The BRI’s Success So Far

The Belt and Road Initiative has already won over much of Africa as BRI-connected rail, ports, and other infrastructure are providing a breath of fresh air to nations long held hostage by IMF/World Bank conditionalities. Pakistan and much of Southwest Asia are also increasingly on board the BRI through the growing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Seventeen Arab states consolidated 8 massive BRI infrastructure projects between April 15-16 and much of Latin America has also joined with hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure projects. Italy embraced this new BRI framework on March 23, and Greece joined the Central and Eastern European nations of the 16+1 alliance on April 9th. The Eurasian Economic Union is now in the final stages of a long planned economic treaty between China and the Russian-led economic block. Although America has been invited to the BRI on many occasions since its 2013 inception, no positive response has been permitted by the NATO-Deep State power structures manipulating the west.

While China’s activity in the Arctic is only manifesting now, its Arctic Strategy began many years ago.

The importance of the Arctic Silk Road for China

China deployed their first Arctic research expedition in 1999, followed by the establishment of their first Arctic research station in Svalbard, Norway in 2004. After years of effort, China achieved a permanent observer seat at the Arctic Council in 2011, and began building icebreakers soon thereafter surpassing Canada and nearly surpassing the USA whose two out-dated ice breakers have passed their shelf life by many years.

As the Arctic ice caps continue to recede, the Northern Sea Route has become a major focus for China. The fact that shipping time from China’s Port of Dalian to Rotterdam would be cut by 10 days makes this alternative very attractive. Ships sailing from China to Europe must currently follow a transit through the congested Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal which is 5000 nautical miles longer than the northern route. The opening up of Arctic resources vital for China’s long term outlook is also a major driver in this initiative.

In preparation for resource development, China and Russia created a Russian Chinese Polar Engineering and Research Center in 2016 to develop capabilities for northern development such as building on permafrost, creating ice resistant platforms, and more durable icebreakers. New technologies needed for enhanced ports, and transportation in the frigid cold was also a focus. China additionally has a 30% stake in the Yamal LNG Project and the ‘Power of Siberia’ 3000 mile pipeline to China is 99% complete and will soon be the primary supplier of China’s oil and natural gas needs.

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation “The Polar Silk Road Comes to Life as a New Epoch in History Begins”

Note: This is Strategic Culture Foundation’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

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Pentagon warns on risk of Chinese submarines in Arctic


Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali May 3, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Deepening Chinese activities in the Arctic region could pave the way for a strengthened military presence, including the deployment of submarines to act as deterrents against nuclear attack, the Pentagon said in a report released on Thursday.

The assessment is included in the U.S. military’s annual report to Congress on China’s armed forces and follows Beijing’s publication of its first official Arctic policy white paper in June.

In that paper, China outlined plans to develop shipping lanes opened up by global warming to form a “Polar Silk Road” – building on President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative.

China, despite being a non-Arctic state, is increasingly active in the polar region and became an observer member of the Arctic Council in 2013. That has prompted concerns from Arctic states over Beijing’s long-term strategic objectives, including possible military deployments.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will attend the meeting of the eight-nation Arctic Council in Rovaniemi, Finland, starting on Monday, which comes amid concerns over China’s increased commercial interests in the Arctic.

The Pentagon report noted that Denmark has expressed concern about China’s interest in Greenland, which has included proposals to establish a research station and a satellite ground station, renovate airports and expand mining.

“Civilian research could support a strengthened Chinese military presence in the Arctic Ocean, which could include deploying submarines to the region as a deterrent against nuclear attacks,” the report said.

The Pentagon report noted that China’s military has made modernizing its submarine fleet a high priority. China’s navy operates four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, six nuclear-powered attack submarines and 50 conventionally powered attack submarines, the report said.

“The speed of growth of the submarine force has slowed and (it) will likely grow to between 65 and 70 submarines by 2020,” the report predicted.

The report said China had built six Jin-class submarines, with four operational and two under construction at Huludao Shipyard.

In a January report, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency said the Chinese navy would need a minimum of five Jin-class submarines to maintain a continuous nuclear deterrence at sea.

The United States and its allies, in turn, are expanding their anti-submarine naval deployments across East Asia. This includes stepped-up patrols of America’s advanced, sub-hunting P-8 Poseidon planes out of Singapore and Japan.

TAIWAN CONTINGENCY

The expansion of China’s submarine forces is just one element of a broad, and costly, modernization of its military, which U.S. experts say is designed largely to deter any action by America’s armed forces.

Although Beijing’s official defense budget for 2018 was $175 billion, the Pentagon estimated that China’s budget actually topped $200 billion, when including research, development and foreign weapons procurement. It estimated that China’s official defense budget would likely grow to about $260 billion by 2022.

Much of China’s military doctrine is focused on self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a renegade province.

On Jan. 2, Xi said in a speech that China reserved the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but would strive to achieve peaceful “reunification.”

The Pentagon report outlined a number of potential scenarios that China might take if Beijing decides to use military force on Taiwan, including a comprehensive campaign “designed to force Taiwan to capitulate to unification, or unification dialogue.”

But the U.S. analysis appeared to downplay prospects for a large-scale amphibious Chinese invasion, saying that could strain its armed forces and invite international intervention. It also noted the possibility of limited missile strikes.

“China could use missile attacks and precision air strikes against air defense systems, including air bases, radar sites, missiles, space assets, and communications facilities to degrade Taiwan’s defenses, neutralize Taiwan’s leadership, or break the Taiwan people’s resolve,” the report said.

China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and worked to isolate Taiwan internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

It has also strongly objected to U.S. warship passages through the Taiwan Strait, which have greatly increased in frequency in the past year.

Taiwan’s military is significantly smaller than China’s, a gap that the Pentagon noted is growing year by year.

Recognizing the disparity, the Pentagon report noted: “Taiwan has stated that it is working to develop new concepts and capabilities for asymmetric warfare.”

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler

Source: Reuters “Pentagon warns on risk of Chinese submarines in Arctic”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China unveils vision for ‘Polar Silk Road’ across Arctic


Reuters Staff January 26, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Friday outlined its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming.

China, despite being a non-Arctic state, is increasingly active in the polar region and became an observer member of the Arctic Council in 2013.

Among its increasing interests in the region is its major stake in Russia’s Yamal liquefied natural gas project which is expected to supply China with four million tonnes of LNG a year, according to the state-run China Daily.

Shipping through the Northern Sea Route would shave almost 20 days off the regular time using the traditional route through the Suez Canal, the newspaper reported last month. COSCO Shipping has also previously sailed vessels through the Arctic’s northeast passage.

China’s increasing prominence in the region has prompted concerns from Arctic states over its long-term strategic objectives, including possible military deployment.

“Some people may have misgivings over our participation in the development of the Arctic, worried we may have other intentions, or that we may plunder resources or damage the environment,” Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said at a briefing.

“I believe these kinds of concerns are absolutely unnecessary.”

The white paper said China also eyes development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-fossil energies, fishing and tourism in the region. It said it would do so “jointly with Arctic States, while respecting traditions and cultures of the Arctic residents including the indigenous peoples and conserving natural environment”.

China’s Belt and Road initiative aims to connect China to Europe, the Middle East and beyond via massive infrastructure projects across dozens of countries, reflecting Xi’s desire for China to take on a more prominent global leadership role.

Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Nick Macfie

Source: Reuters “China unveils vision for ‘Polar Silk Road’ across Arctic”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.