Why In News?
China recently released a whitepaper on Arctic policy.
FACTS FOR PRELIMS
China’s Arctic interests were heavily focused on environmental issues i.e. the impacts of melting polar ice on China’s continental and oceanic environment, and its impact on the country’s agricultural development.
In 1925, China joined the Spitsbergen Treaty and started active participation in addressing the Arctic affairs. Accordingly, Chinese policymakers had been emphasizing the importance of conducting scientific work in the region, and the country had made considerable investments in polar research since the 1990s.
China has undertaken four research expeditions, has an Arctic research station in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, and has a number of elite academic institutes dedicated to Arctic research.
It also owns the world’s largest icebreaker vessel, Xuelong (Snow Dragon), which has been central to China’s research activities for developing the Arctic policy.
The white paper shows China’s intention of building a “Polar Silk Road” which would involve shipping roads in the region and has pledged corporate governance for the same. This is a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative or BRI and would facilitate connectivity and sustainable economic and social development of the Arctic.