#69 – China’s Polar Silk Road



HONG Nong 洪农 Executive Director and Senior Fellow, Institute for China-America Studies


CHEN Gang 陈刚 Assistant Director and Senior Research Fellow, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore




With nearly half of its GDP being shipping-dependent, anything affecting international shipping will have a tremendous impact on Chinese economy. Climate change is speeding up the melting of the ice-covereted Arctic,  opening up new northern sea routes that will shorten the distance between Asia and Western Europe by over 6.000 km. It is also estimated that the Arctic contains up to 30% of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13% of the world undiscovered oil resources.


Despite it is not an Arctic littoral state – it has not Arctic coast and no sovereign rights to underwater continental shelves – in the past few years China has become a member of every single Arctic and Arctic-related governance body it was entitled to join and is strengthening diplomatic and economic relations with all the Arctic countries. Free-trade deals, investments in mining and infrastructure, real estate interests but also one of the world’s strongest polar scientific research capability are all elements of the new China’s Arctic strategy, revealed earlier this year, in January 2018, with the release of the first White Paper focusing on “China’s Arctic Policy”.


Which are then the biggest opportunities related to the opening of the Polar Silk Road? Who are the actors involved in shaping this strategy? And most of all which are the challenges that China will have to deal with, both on the environmental level but also in its relations with Arctic states, including Russia? 




  • Hong, Nong (2014), Emerging Interests of non-Arctic Countries in the Arctic: a Chinese Perspective, The Polar Journal, 4:2, 271-286
  • Gang, Chen (2012), China’s Emerging Arctic Strategy, The Polar Journal, 2:2, 358-317




Since the Bridge Café does not exist anymore, for this event we will be hosted by Tsinghua SEM X-Elerator 清华经管学院-创业者加速器, at the entrance of Innoway Zhongguancun.



Innoway Zhongguancun, Haohai Building 3rd floor, Haidian East Street 36, Haidian, Beijing 


Link on Baidu Maps


*On the northern entrance of the Haohai building there’s the lift that will take you to the third floor, directly at the X-Elerator




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