China to re­lease its first guide­book on Arc­tic ship­ping short­cut

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China will soon pub­lish its first guide to Arc­tic sail­ing through the North­ern Sea Route, a newly dis­cov­ered short­cut that will help Chi­nese ship­ping com­pa­nies re­duce tran­sit times be­tween China and Europe.

The guide will of­fer “com­pre­hen­sive, prac­ti­cal and au­thor­i­ta­tive” in­for­ma­tion for Chi­nese cargo ships for sail­ing through the North­ern Sea Route, or North­east Pas­sage, to Europe, Zhai Ji­u­gang, deputy head of the Min­istry of Trans­port’s Mar­itime Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said at a news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing on Thurs­day. He said the guide will be re­leased in July.

The new route can save Chi­nese cargo ships 5,186 kilo­me­ters and nine days from the tra­di­tional voy­age to Europe, which goes through the Malacca Straits and the Suez Canal, he said.

The North­ern Sea Route is a ship­ping lane of­fi­cially de­fined by Rus­sian leg­is­la­tion to run from the At­lantic Ocean to the Pa­cific Ocean, specif­i­cally run­ning along the Rus­sian Arc­tic coast from Mur­mansk on the Bar­ents Sea, along Siberia, to the Ber­ing Strait and Far East.

The guide elab­o­rates on such things as the North­ern Sea Route’s nau­ti­cal chart, sail­ing meth­ods, ice­break­ing providers and Arc­tic ge­og­ra­phy and cli­mate, as well as laws and reg­u­la­tions of coun­tries along the route, ac­cord­ing to Wang Liangyu, a mar­itime map­ping ex­pert with the min­istry’s Dong­hai Nav­i­ga­tion Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which led the mak­ing of the guide.

The book’s pub­li­ca­tion will make China the sec­ond coun­try af­ter Rus­sia to is­sue an Arc­tic voy­age guide.

There are three main ship­ping pas­sages across the Arc­tic re­gion, and the North­ern Sea Route opens at the end of July for about four months. It is deemed the most eco­nom­i­cal route in the re­gion be­cause it has the short­est dis­tance, 5,437 km. How­ever, it was long marginal­ized be­cause of ice block­age.

With the ef­fects of global warm­ing, the route has be­come more ac­ces­si­ble for ships be­cause the ice is melt­ing faster. A to­tal of 46 commercial ships went through the lane last year.

One of these ships, the Yong­sheng of China Ocean Ship­ping (Group) Co, made China’s first voy­age through the route. The 19,461-ton ves­sel set sail on Aug 8 from Dalian, in North­east China’s Liaon­ing prov­ince, and ar­rived in Rot­ter­dam, the Nether­lands, on Sept 10, sav­ing about half a month com­pared with the time re­quired by tra­di­tional routes, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

“More than 90 per­cent of China’s in­ter­na­tional trade is car­ried out by sea, so once the route is com­pletely open, it will sig­nif­i­cantly fa­cil­i­tate the cargo ship­ping and trade sec­tors in China,” said Wang Hexun, di­rec­tor of the Dong­hai Nav­i­ga­tion Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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