The Arctic connection
The opening of arctic sea routes will increase connectivity between asia and europe. Nonetheless, both the commercial opportunities and security challenges attached to the arctic are often exaggerated. The Northern sea Route has been written into China’s belt and Road Initiative, signaling an interest on the Chinese side, but it will take many years, if not decades, before this sea route is commercially sustainable. also, it is only shipments in and out of ports in Japan, south Korea and cities north of shanghai in China that will save fuel and time sailing the arctic route instead of through the suez to europe.
Furthermore, China’s and asia’s entry into arctic affairs is unlikely to alter the security policy configuration in the region. For the Pla Navy to operate in the arctic Ocean, it first has to sail along the Japanese coast, pass through the narrow bering strait, then enter into Russian waters. an increased Chinese footprint in the arctic is hardly feasible without Russian consent, and despite improved ties, China’s arctic engagement is still looked upon with suspicion in Moscow, a concern beijing is keenly aware of. Moreover, in the big picture of Chinese foreign policy, the arctic is rather low on the list of beijing’s priorities.
In a changing geopolitical landscape characterized by intensified sino-us rivalry and Russian assertiveness, the strategic theaters of asia and europe are now more closely connected than at any point since the end of the Cold War, and this has to be reflected in the grand strategy of the major powers. although the asian theater has replaced the european as the new nexus in international politics, europe can still play a role in asian security. as of yet, however, european capitals don’t have an overarching strategy for