China’s traders bet on northern shipping routes

China’s traders bet on northern shipping routesAmong many disadvantages, global warming has one advantage, Chinese traders say. The disappearance of year-round sea ice around the North Pole is opening up new shipping routes for Chinese goods to the West.

China is looking to exploit the new routes, in particular the Northwest Passage, the shortcut from the Pacific to the Atlantic through the northern waters of Canada. Last year, Chinese shipping company COSCO said it plans to launch regular services through the Arctic Ocean to Europe by way of the ‘Northeast Passage’, another Arctic shipping route north of Russia.

Global warming and the retreat of Arctic sea ice are making these northern routes more accessible. According to The Guardian, Beijing sees the freeing of these routes as an opportunity to reshape global trade flows. China’s maritime safety administration earlier this month published a 356-page, Chinese-language guide including nautical charts and descriptions of ice conditions for the Northwest Passage.

There could be discussions as to whether there is to be free passage on the Northwest Passage, as Canada regards it as part of its internal waters. In Ottawa, a government spokesman said no automatic right of transit passage existed in the waterways of the Northwest Passage.

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Image by Susie Harder, via Wikimedia Commons

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