China mulls routine navigation through Arctic to Europe
Updated: 2015-10-26 19:51
An icebreaker sails on waters of the Arctic. [Photo/CFP]
DALIAN -- Shipping experts are considering routine navigation through Arctic waters to link China and Europe, a shortcut to bypass the route that passes through the Malacca Strait and Suez Canal.
In October 2015, Chinese vessel Yong Sheng finished a record-setting round trip from Europe to north China by sailing through the Arctic waters of the Northeast Passage and docking at Tianjin Port.
The cargo ship operated by China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO), the country's top shipping line, is the first Chinese merchant ship to sail from Europe to China via the Northeast Passage, an icy path north of Russia and Scandinavia.
Yong Sheng sailed nearly 20,000 nautical miles (37,040 kilometers) during the 55-day voyage, according to COSCO.
Many experts expect the Arctic passage to become the next "golden waterway" for trade between China and Europe, according to a seminar held last week in the northeast China port city of Dalian.
The seminar focused on the possibility of normalizing the Yong Sheng's Arctic shipping route.
"The company is considering increasing the number of ships sailing via the new path," said Cai Meijiang, general manager of the safety and technical supervision department of COSCO.
The 19,000-tonne vessel first started its journey from Dalian to Rotterdam on August 8, 2013, sailing through the Northeast Passage and shortening the traditional shipping time by nine days.
Global warming has transformed the Arctic in recent years, and its summer ice cover has dropped over the last few decades, making it possible to sail along the Arctic sea routes with comparative ease.