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Current Affairs

China to develop Polar Silk route

Date: 06 March 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

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

 

Background

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

 

Details

  • 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.

 

Significance

  • 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.