China includes ‘Polar Silk Road’ in next 5-year plan

The country already has significant investments in the Arctic.

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Security personnel keep watch outside the Great Hall of the People before the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China March 5, 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters)

SHANGHAI — China will construct a “Polar Silk Road” and actively participate in the development of Arctic and Antarctic regions, it said in its new 2021-2025 five-year plan published on Friday.

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

Chinese state-owned and affiliated companies have already made, or sought to make, investments in the Arctic in oil and gas, mining, and infrastructure projects, and the country is eyeing new shipping routes that are emerging in the region as sea ice recedes due to climate change.

China released a white paper in 2018 highlighting its ambitions in the region.

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

Reporting by David Stanway.