Postcards from the Ice Silk Road: Deepening Sino-Russian Cooperation in the Arctic

Tuesday 21 May, 12:00-13:00 in 101 í Lögberg, University of Iceland

Open lecture hosted by the Centre for Arctic Studies, University of Iceland

Postcards from the Ice Silk Road: Deepening Sino-Russian Cooperation in the Arctic 

Presentation by Marc Lanteigne, UiT: The Arctic University of Norway

Rasmus Bertelsen, UiT: The Arctic University of Norway, will lead the discussions 

Since 2017, China has accelerated its Arctic policy agenda, seeking to include the Arctic Ocean within its expanding ‘Belt and Road’ trade networks and co-develop regional industries, including energy and shipping. Originally a sceptic of Beijing’s widening Arctic agenda, the government of Vladimir Putin in Russia has since enthusiastically pursued greater cooperation with China as part of its own expansion of Arctic policies. Bilateral cooperation in the far north has recently begun to focus on the concept of building an ‘Ice Silk Road’, which at the onset has meant creating a maritime conduit through the Northern Sea Route, as well as developing various fossil fuel and potential infrastructure projects along its shores. Yet the story does not end there, as China and Russia are now also seeking to combine their research capabilities in the Arctic as Beijing seeks a louder voice in Arctic affairs. 

The recent criticism by the US government of Donald Trump of Sino-Russian Arctic cooperation may have the opposite effect of what was intended. The Ice Silk Road, in the wake of American pushback, may evolve into a platform for alternative Arctic organisations which may challenge current regional regimes, perhaps even the Arctic Council itself. As China’s cooperation with Russia in the Arctic takes on new forms, what will be responses from not only the US, but the Nordic states as well?