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China to develop Polar Silk route

Date: 06 March 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous


China has expressed its interest in developing a Polar Silk Route passing through the regions near North Pole.



Global warming events have lead to rapid melting of Polar ice. This has opened shipping lanes in otherwise frozen sea.



  • The plan for developing Polar Silk Route was expressed during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for national economic and social development.

  • The plans have been proposed to China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s Parliament which began its annual session.

  • The route will connect Atlantic and Pacific Ocean without having to traverse the long path that had to be taken through Panama Canal or Suez Canal.

  • It will cut through the Arctic Ocean, which has shown decline in freezing activities. It will pass near the North Pole.

  • The new route may reduce distances for global trade but remains frozen most part of the year, making it harder.

  • The current two Arctic shipping routes include the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage.

  • China plans to integrate the Polar Silk Route with its multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It had also brought out a white paper regarding its plans.



  • China has limited opportunity to link Europe and West Asia through marine routes due to the Malacca strait.

  • It has been planning various initiatives that will help it to create faster trade routes and also gain strategic advantage.

  • Its projects such as CPEC and Polar Silk Route are all attempts to increase its connectivity and influence across the globe.


Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

  • BRI was launched in 2013 with an aim to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

  • India has been critical of the BRI mainly due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through Gilgit-Baltistan region of Jammu & Kashmir.

  • India claims Gilgit-Baltistan as its own territory and sees the CPEC project as a gross violation of its sovereignty.