Tuesday, January 31, 2017

China eyes Canada's Northwest Passage as fast shipping/military route via Arctic

China eyes Canada's Northwest Passage as fast shipping/military route via Arctic

Posted 20 Apr 2016, 2:53pm
China will encourage ships flying its flag to take the Northwest Passage via the Arctic Ocean, a route in waters that Canada claims as its own, to cut travel times between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a state-run newspaper said.

Key points:

  • Route opened by global warming cuts travel times between Atlantic and Pacific oceans
  • China's maritime authorities release 356-page route guide
  • Canada says it controls all waters in Northwest Passage
Shorter shipping routes across the Arctic Ocean, a route opened up by global warming, would save Chinese companies time and money. For example, the journey from Shanghai to Hamburg via the Arctic route is 2,800 nautical miles shorter than going by the Suez Canal.
China's Maritime Safety Administration this month released a guide offering detailed route guidance from the northern coast of North America to the northern Pacific, the China Daily said.
We welcome navigation that complies with our rules and regulations. Canada has an unfettered right to regulate internal waters.
Spokesman for Canadian foreign ministry Joseph Pickerill
"Once this route is commonly used, it will directly change global maritime transport and have a profound influence on international trade, the world economy, capital flow and resource exploitation," ministry spokesman Liu Pengfei said.
Asked if China considered the passage an international waterway or Canadian waters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China noted Canada considered that the route crosses its waters, although some countries believed it was open to international navigation.
In Ottawa, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said no automatic right of transit passage existed in the waterways of the Northwest Passage.
"We welcome navigation that complies with our rules and regulations. Canada has an unfettered right to regulate internal waters," Joseph Pickerill said by email.
China is increasingly active in the polar region, becoming one of the biggest mining investors in Greenland and agreeing to a free trade deal with Iceland.
The route would also be strategically important to China, another maritime official, Wu Yuxiao, told the China Daily.
Melting sea ice has spurred more commercial traffic, and China wants to become more active in the Arctic, where it says it has important interests.

Arctic sea ice concentration, 1984 and 2012

Image result for Arctic sea ice concentration, 1984 and 2012

Chinese ships will sail through the Northwest Passage "in the future", the maritime ministry spokesman Mr Liu added, without giving a time frame.
Chinese ships, even merchant vessels, using the Northwest Passage could raise eyebrows in Washington.
In September, five Chinese Navy ships sailed in international waters in the Bering Sea off Alaska, in an apparent first for China's military.
Maritime experts said shipping companies would most likely be deterred by the unpredictable nature of Arctic ice, the total absence of infrastructure in the region, relatively shallow waters, a lack of modern mapping and increased insurance costs.

[Lets reflect on our national anthem..."True north strong and free, we stand on guard for thee" or does anyone care anymore...]