In 2018, China launched its Arctic policy, positioning itself as a “near-Arctic state”, and expressing a desire for ‘stronger international cooperation on infrastructure construction and operation of the Arctic routes. In its Arctic policy document, China has explicitly expressed a desire to create a polar silk road in cooperation with other countries.

The purpose of this project is to investigate the status and realism of the establishment of a polar silk road (PSR) and what this could mean for Norway. PSR has been launched as a major investment by China, and it is linked to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It first appeared officially in a 2017 Russian-Chinese joint declaration in which the two countries had agreed to develop the Northern Sea Route (NSR). There have been high expectations for the potential for resource extraction and maritime transport in the Arctic in Chinese reports and articles. However, it is still unclear how important the PSR is in China's Arctic strategy. Some see PSR as a promising framework for cooperation, not only with Russia, but also with countries in Northeast Asia and the Nordic countries. Others argue that the polar silk road and shipping in the Arctic are not high on the agenda of China's leadership compared to other foreign policy issues.

This project will therefore analyze China's policy on PSR and identify specific measures China is taking to develop it. Through a policy analysis of official Chinese documents and statements from key players, we want to shed light on possible plans and policies in the further process for PSR. We want to contribute to a better understanding of what PSR entails and will also draw conclusions about the development of the policy in the coming years. China is generally investing in shipping and the maritime industry, which may affect the development of future transport options in the Arctic. A real investment in PSR will directly be of significance to and influence Norway. We will therefore look at the consequences of an active PSR for Norway.

Project period: 2022-2023



  • Research Professor
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  • PhD Research Fellow
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  • Researcher
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  • Norwegian Ministry of Defence (Research support programme)