China and Arctic Shipping: Policies, Interests and Engagement

Publication: China and Arctic Shipping: Policies, Interests and Engagement

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Authors: Arild Moe, Olav Schram Stokke

DOI: 10.24411/2618-6888-2019-10015

CNARC member: Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI)

Summary: China is widely perceived as an emerging key actor in Arctic shipping. The purpose of the article is to clarify how strong China’s engagement really is; how much of it is purely commercial, and how much is a reflection of political goals. We take a bottom-up approach, examining use of arctic sea routes from the perspectives of Chinese governmental agencies and companies, but we also place shipping in the context of China’s Arctic policy. The Arctic policy is upbeat on Arctic shipping options, subsuming them under the larger Belt and Road Initiative as a “Polar Silk Road”. However, the Chinese shipping industry’s actual moves into the region have been cautious, and mainly reflect sober commercial calculations.

Keywords: Arctic, shipping, China, «Polar Silk Road», «Belt and Road initiative» (BRI), COSCO — China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO Group).