While the world is fearing the melting polar is, China sees new opportunities for Arctic shipping lanes, writes defense expert Wendell Minnick on his weblog. Other sea lanes could become potentially problematic.
Beijing has had security concerns over the sea lanes of communication. China is dependent on oil and gas shipments from the Middle East. Potential choke points in the Malacca Strait and territorial disputes in the South China Sea have added to the concern. For the first time in China’s modern naval history, it has taken up anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden to ward off Somali pirates.
Though an Arctic passage would do little to solve security concerns over oil and gas shipments from the Middle East, it would provide a shorter route for China’s exports to Europe. It is estimated that the maritime route between Asia and Europe could be reduced from 15,000 miles to less than 8,000 miles, Wang Kuan-Hsiung, a researcher at National Taiwan Normal University, said.
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