Yu Cao

This paper explores Russia’s cooperation with China on the development agenda of the Polar Silk Road (PSR). China formally introduced the PSR initiative in 2017 to jointly develop Arctic shipping routes, of which the Northern Sea Route (NSR) is a major focus. Russia and China have been cooperating on infrastructure building on both land and sea and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects as part of the development goals of the PSR. The research question is: what are the major goals and perspectives of Sino-Russian cooperation in the Arctic? Moreover, what opportunities and risks does Sino-Russian cooperation on the PSR present for the region and beyond? This paper seeks to understand how Russia’s eastern focus affects the Arctic West and how the shifting geopolitical environment affects the directions for Sino-Russian cooperation. The questions are important to discuss amid the on-going Western sanctions on Russia after it invaded Ukraine. By identifying Sino-Russian cooperation projects along the PSR in the energy, shipping and infrastructure areas, this paper discusses Russia’s development strategies in the Arctic and China’s contributions to the realization of these projects. The argument is: the increasing tension between Russia and the West stimulates the convergence of China and Russia’s interests in the Arctic region, especially along the NSR. The PSR serves as a “vehicle” for Russia to increase investment in building Arctic infrastructure and to expand resource exploration. Under the umbrella of the PSR, Russia has increased economic and security ties with the East. The Sino- Russian cooperation in the Arctic reflects the two countries’ increasing influence over the geopolitics in the region.

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