The Belt and Road Initiative: Implications for the Arctic

Organized by: Centre for Arctic Policy Studies, University of Iceland 5. September 2017

Since 2013, China under President Xi Jinping has been developing a series of new trade routes over land and sea, which collectively have begun to be known as the ‘Belt and Road’. However, with the melting of Arctic Ocean ice, there is the growing possibility that China may be able to make use of the Northern Sea Route for expedited transit between Asia and Europe in the coming decades.

So far Russia is the only Arctic Council member state that is a part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Will an ‘ice road’ be added to China’s growing cross-regional trade networks, and if so, how will this development affect Beijing’s expanding Arctic diplomacy and strategy? What does this mean for the other Arctic states? What are the challenges and opportunities for them in being a part of this initiative? This session will discuss the Belt and Road Initiative both from the perspective of China and the Arctic states.


  • Marc Lanteigne, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (CDSS) at Massy University, Auckland, New Zealand: China's Belt and Road and the Role of the Arctic
  • Egill Thor Nielsson: Executive Secretary, CNARC and Visiting Scholar, Polar Research Institute of China: An Ice Silk Road From China to the Nordics
  • Mingming Shi, Project manager: China's economic diplomacy in Greenland: an issue for Denmark?