Some European experts who met at the 12th Lennart Meri Conference on foreign and security policy have deemed China’s Belt and Road Initiative, including its Arctic policy, as being helpful to global development.
As to China’s vision for a “Polar Silk Road”, Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, professor of international security at Britain’s Loughborough University, said the policy is helpful for the development of the Arctic region.
In an interview with Xinhua in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, on June 3, the British expert on international relations and global security said: “China is hugely important because of its commercial and economic strength, and ambitions to be able to trade more freely with different parts of the globe.”
During a panel discussion, Kennedy-Pipe said she doesn’t agree that what happens in the Arctic stays in the Arctic, as it is connected with the outside, and “it’s not owned by any state or any powers”.
Her remarks echoed China’s Arctic policy elaborated in an official white paper released on January 26.
The white paper says China would like to “jointly understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic, and advance Arctic-related cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative”.
The Polar Silk Road via the Arctic is widely seen as the third arch of the Belt and Road.
Also during the conference on June 2, responding to a question on Chinese investments in Europe, Lolita Cigane, chairperson of the European Affairs Committee at Latvian parliament, said that Latvia is “an active participant” of the Belt and Road Initiative.
“We do not see any dangers with the Chinese investments and our cooperation is transparent,” she noted.
The three-day conference was organized by the International Center for Defence and Security, a Tallinn-based think tank, in cooperation with Lennart Meri European Foundation.
Named after late Lennart Meri, who served as Estonian president from in 1992-2001, the conference discussed topics such as Russia and the West, European defense, and issues related to NATO, the Arctic, Baltic defense and the European Union, among others.