China is eyeing the Arctic and increases its presence by announcing a research expedition all along the north coast of Siberia towards the Barents Sea. The icebreaker “Xue Long” sails for the mission in July and Beijing hopes the huge icebreaker will reach the Barents Sea before returning in September.
“If the expedition goes according to the plan it will also be the first time for a Chinese icebreaker to reach the Barents Sea,” says Liu Cigui, director of China’s State Oceanic Administration to the news agency Xinhua, reports RIA Novosti.
Scientists aboard will carry out oceanic, atmospheric, sea-ice and marine life research along the Northern Sea Route. The icebreaker has earlier sailed the Northwest Passage and done research in the Arctic waters outside the coast of Alaska and Canada.
Chinese researchers have earlier criticized the Arctic coastal states for excluding other nations in the north. Last autumn, BarentsObserver quoted an article published in Beijing Review stating “It is unimaginable that non-Arctic states will remain users of Arctic shipping routes and consumers of Arctic energy without playing a role in the decision-making process.”
In addition to sending the icebreaker “Xue Long” (Snow Dragon) along the north coast of Siberia towards the Barents Sea, Beijing will also send Arctic researchers to the Yellow River Station on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago.