China’s “Polar Silk Road”: challenges and opportunities for the EU

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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) published its Arctic Policy white paper in 2018 as a series of guidelines on how to exploit climate change by creating a “new” route through the Arctic circle into Europe. This “Polar Silk Road” will shorten distances when it comes to trade. While it may be considered as a way of the European Union (EU) taking advantage of better trade flow through the Arctic, it also shows how China has become more ambitious and capable of putting forward projects that not only help its economy and development, but also signal a shift in the world’s power center. The EU’s Arctic Policy (2016) promises an European approach to the region based on sustainable development and limiting climate change. For the EU, China’s presence in the Arctic poses a challenge to its security as well as the problem of how to benefit from better commerce while at the same time protecting the delicate ecosystem of the Arctic. This paper attempts at explaining China and the EU’s Arctic policies and how a mutual adaption to each other will help foster a better understanding in a post Covid-19 era through a more holistic approach based on the strengths of each strategy.

Keywords: Polar Silk Road, Arctic Policy, China, EU

Luís Filipe Pestana | Beijing Normal University

BA (2010) and MA (2013) degrees in International Relations (Catholic University of Portugal – Institute for Political Studies) working in China for the past six and a half years as a Portuguese language foreign lecturer (currently at Beijing Normal University – Maxdo College). Besides language teaching and policy, major interests include Chinese foreign policy, Chinese philosophy, China-Africa relations and challenges posed by China at a global scale, including with regards to the European Union. Has participated in various conferences and published articles related to language policy, the Chinese diaspora in Portugal, China-Spain relations, among others. Was also invited twice by prof. Nancy Ferreira Gomes to teach classes for the Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa about China and the UN and Chinese International Relations Theory. Currently focused in how China’s worldview challenges the West from a philosophic perspective.