Hoping to grow its footprint in world trade and polar research, China on Monday (Sept. 10) unveiled its first icebreaker ship built domestically. Arctic Today reports that the Xue Long 2 icebreaker joins a fleet that currently consists of one other ship, a former Soviet vessel built in Ukraine.
Interest in icebreaking ships has grown as melting polar ice make it easier to steer shipping and research vessels through the ice, albeit with a little muscle.
The Xue Long 2 is also the latest physical evidence of China’s vision for a “Polar Silk Road,” which is part of the country’s larger Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar project to integrate China with the rest of the world through trade infrastructure investments. Although the scope of the Belt and Road Initiative is hard to gauge, the project has stalled in recent months.