Karelian White Sea site; ‘Polar Silk Road’ connection
Chinese energy construction firm Sinomec is keen on investing in an offshore wind power project in the White Sea being built by Russia’s Republic of Karelia.
The Independent Barents Observer says the 60 MW wind park in Moscow’s Arctic region has an estimated price of 9 billion rubles and is poised to become Russia’s first offshore wind park.
Karelia’s regional Deputy Governor Vladimir Timofeev says he discussed the project with Chinese officials on a visit to China’s Fujian Province last week.
“We have agreed to develop the wind power project — this is what the Chinese are most interested in,” Timofeev reportedly told TASS.
The Observer says a Chinese delegation with technical experts is expected to visit Russia’s northwest region in May and that official documents are expected to be formalized during the visit. The Chinese specialists will review the project, including technical aspects of the offshore location, the deputy governor said.
Part of “Polar Silk Road’
Chinese interest in the Kareilian project follows Beijing’s unveiling of its first official Arctic policy white paper on January 26 which lays out a vision for a “Polar Silk Road.”
The paper links cooperation in the Arctic region to China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Xinhua news agency quoted the white paper as saying that China plans to participate in the Arctic in accordance with the basic principles of “respect, cooperation, win-win result and sustainability.”
The policy, among other things, encourages Chinese firms to participate in infrastructure development for Arctic shipping routes and other projects. China is also looking to develop oil, gas, minerals and other non-fossil fuels, as well as fishing and tourism in the region.
On January 26, 2018, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou unveiled “China’s Arctic Policy.” The country’s self-classification as a “Near-Arctic State“ is an important step in the region’s development, and when combined with other objectives indicates rising Chinese ambitions in Arctic affairs. How does a “Polar Silk Road“ align with the more expansive Belt and Road Initiative? What opportunities and risks does China’s aspirations in the Arctic present for the U.S., the region, and the globe?
In this Ground Truth Briefing, a panel of regional experts discussed China’s emerging Arctic presence.