China Outbound Investments Vol. 37 – Q1, 2018



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China Outbound Investments Vol. 32 – Q4, 2016



China Outbound Investments Vol. 28 – Q4, 2015

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Quarterly Feature – Launch of Polar Silk Road

In January, China released its first official Arctic policy white paper, outlining its ambition for a “Polar Silk Road”. Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said China would encourage companies to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages that would “bring opportunities to the Arctic”.

Kong said Beijing considered itself an important stakeholder in the Arctic, a region that mattered to the entire international community. In the white paper, Beijing called for more scientific research and environmental protection for the Arctic Circle, and it also reveals its ambition to tap resources and take part in governance. It suggests exploration of a potential shipping route across the Arctic – which it dubs the “Polar Silk Road” – as well as development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-renewable energy sources, fishing and tourism in the region.

The white paper comes amid mounting speculation over China’s ambitions in the Arctic. The world’s second-largest economy has been on the hunt to secure enough energy resources to meet its growing demand – and the Arctic has 30% of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13% of its undiscovered oil reserves. As rising temperatures result in sea ice melting across the Arctic, there are new opportunities for ships to travel through previously inaccessible, resource-rich areas.

Xi first raised the idea of the “Polar Silk Road” in Moscow in 2017, unveiling a series of plans with Russia in the Arctic that would be incorporated into the ever-expanding “Belt and Road Initiative”, such as polar areas, deep ocean, space and cyberspace – had grown along with the expansion of its economy and global influence.

China has stepped up its engagement in the Arctic in recent years and was granted observer status on the Arctic Council in 2013, which gives it input on governance of the region. The council comprises eight member countries bordering the Arctic – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, the United States and Iceland.

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