China pledges to build the ‘Polar Silk Road’ during 2021-2025


Security personnel stand guard outside the Great Hall of the People before the inaugural session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, on March 5, 2021. REUTERS / Carlos García Rawlins

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China will build a “Polar Silk Road” and actively participate in the development of the Arctic and Antarctic regions, it said in its new 2021-2025 “five-year plan” released on Friday.

The plan said China would “engage in pragmatic cooperation at the North Pole” and “increase its ability to participate in the protection and utilization of the South Pole.”

China has been considering lucrative mineral resources, as well as possible new shipping routes in the Arctic regions, as the polar ice caps recede as a result of rising temperatures.

It published a white paper in 2018 outlining its plans to create new cargo routes linking Asia and Europe through the northeast, northwest and central passages of the Arctic, raising concerns about the region’s fragile environment.

Late last year, China also announced plans to launch a new satellite to track sea routes and monitor changes in sea ice in the Arctic. It plans to launch the satellite in 2022.

Reporting by David Stanway; Edited by Shri Navaratnam

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