The largest shipping company in China COSCO will soon begin regular shipping services that travel through the Arctic Ocean to Europe. A spokesperson for the company confirmed the news last Tuesday.
Because of global warming, the ice in the Arctic Ocean is not as big of a problem as it once was, allowing COSCO to make the trip.
COSCO said in a statement, “With global warming and accelerated ice melting in the Arctic, summer voyages in the Northeast and Northwest Passages in the Arctic have become possible, with commercial development and environmental protection issues attracting the constant attention of international society.”
COSCO is the state shipping company of China, and it has only sent vessels through the Northeast Passage twice in the past. One journey was in 2013, while another voyage was completed earlier this month.
The largest trading partner for China is the European Union, so it makes sense that China would take this route in order to cut down on shipping time. According to shipping experts, traveling through the Arctic Ocean instead of the more traditionally used Indian Ocean will cut shipping times by up to nine days.
A spokesperson for COSCO said, “There is an intention to open a regular line in the future and people are discussing it.” A specific timetable for this plan was not provided.
Recently, China’s state news agency Xinhua made a report that the route was a “golden waterway for trade” for China. Now, COSCO is hoping to make the Northeast Passage route of the Arctic more standard.
Earlier this month, the Yong Sheng merchant ship of COSCO completed a 55 day round-trip journey between China and Europe using this route. The ship also completed a similar trip two years ago.
China joined the Arctic Council as an observer two years ago, despite the fact that country has no territorial claims in the region. Observers say that the country appreciates the area for its potential scientific research, as well as its strategic value for military purposes.