China is encouraging its ships to turn to the Arctic as a way of cutting transit times for transporting goods between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, government-run newspapers China Daily reported.
The Northwest Passage, a sea route connecting the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America, is becoming ever more attractive for shipping as global warming melts the ice cover and keeps the route navigable for longer periods. The passage cuts the transit for ships by 30% when compared to the traditional routes passing through the Panama Canal.
Earlier this month, China’s Maritime Safety Administration issued a 356-page guide in Chinese offering detailed route guidance from the northern coast of North America to the northern Pacific as a means of promoting the potential of the route. The guide contains nautical charts and details on weather conditions.
“Once this route is commonly used, it will directly change global maritime transportation and have a profound influence on international trade, the world economy, capital flow and resource exploitation,” Liu Pengfei, the MSA spokesman is quoted as saying by the China Daily.
Liu predicts that there “will be ships with Chinese flags sailing through this route in the future” as it would sve time and money for Chinese ship owners, nevertheless a specific time-frame on when this might become a more frequent practice has not been given.
On the other hand, numerous risks remain with regard to the safety of the route amid lack of infrastructure and inclement weather.
World Maritime News Staff