Polar Silk Road (initiative)

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China's Polar Silk Road is a plan to build a series of new polar shipping routes, part of their belt and road initiative.[1][2][3]

According to Reuters China's announcement of this initiative was prompted by the realization that global warming opened opportunities to exploit.[4]

According to an update China published in March, 2021, their 2021 five year plan includes concrete progress in the plan.[5]

Some sources assert that China's Polar Silk Road plan calls for China to build a new conventionally powered Polar Class icebreaker in addition to a nuclear powered icebreaker to be known as the Polar Silk Road.[6] China is also planning to build an ice-protected heavy-lift semi-submersible vessel. It would be used to carry and install drilling platforms for petroleum extraction.


  1. Jane Nakano (2018-02-02). "China Launches the Polar Silk Road". Center for Strategic & International Studies. Archived from the original on 2021-10-28. https://web.archive.org/web/20211028101907/https://www.csis.org/analysis/china-launches-polar-silk-road. Retrieved 2021-11-13. "Third, the ability to transit through Arctic waters may enhance the security environment for Chinese ships." 
  2. "Full text: China's Arctic Policy". The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China. 2018-01-26. Archived from the original on 2021-10-20. https://web.archive.org/web/20211020085931/http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/32832/Document/1618243/1618243.htm. Retrieved 2021-11-13. "The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China published a white paper titled "China's Arctic Policy" on Friday." 
  3. Liu Zhen (2021-11-13). "China to develop new heavy icebreaker for ‘Polar Silk Road’". South China Morning Post (Beijing). Archived from the original on 2021-11-23. https://web.archive.org/web/20211123110506/https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3155860/china-develop-new-heavy-icebreaker-polar-silk-road. Retrieved 2021-11-13. "The heavy icebreaker is to be used for rescues along China’s “Polar Silk Road” trade route, part of its global infrastructure Belt and Road Initiative." 
  4. Philip Wen; Nick Macfie (2018-01-26). "China unveils vision for 'Polar Silk Road' across Arctic". Reuters (Beijing). Archived from the original on 2021-11-08. https://web.archive.org/web/20211108145207/https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-arctic-idUSKBN1FF0J8. Retrieved 2021-11-13. "China on Friday outlined its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming." 
  5. David Stanway; Shri Navaratnam (2021-03-04). "China pledges to build 'Polar Silk Road' over 2021-2025". Reuters (Shanghai). Archived from the original on 2021-10-21. https://web.archive.org/web/20211021022059/https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-parliament-polar-idUSKBN2AX09F. Retrieved 2021-11-13. "China will construct a “Polar Silk Road” and actively participate in the development of Arctic and Antarctic regions, it said in its new 2021-2025 “five-year plan” published on Friday." 
  6. Jeremy Greenwood (2021-11-22). "Opinion: The Polar Silk Road Will be Cleared With Chinese Icebreakers". Maritime Executive. Archived from the original on 2021-11-23. https://web.archive.org/web/20211123030837/https://www.maritime-executive.com/editorials/opinion-the-polar-silk-road-will-be-cleared-with-chinese-icebreakers. Retrieved 2021-11-23. "Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Transport has announced that they will develop a new heavy icebreaker and a new heavy-lift semi-submersible vessel capable of salvaging and rescuing vessels in the Arctic. This would supplement their two existing icebreakers and be in addition to reports of their development of a nuclear-powered icebreaker."