China has entered talks with Finland about building a 10,500-kilometer telecommunications cable on the polar seabed connecting Europe and East Asia, a sign of the country’s increasing interest in shaping the development of the Arctic region.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and state-owned China Telecom Corp are among the parties discussing building the fiber-optic link across the Arctic Circle. The proposal also involves Finland, Japan, Russia and Norway, and is designed to create the fastest data connection between Europe and China as soon as 2020, Bloomberg reports.
Besides speeding up China’s communication with European financial centers and data hubs, the project is among Beijing’s most ambitious forays into the hotly contested region. In June, China included the Arctic in President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road initiative and is said to be working on a strategy for the area.
The cable also highlights China’s growing ties with Finland, after Xi in April became the first Chinese president to visit the country since 1995. A freight railway between the Finnish city of Kouvola and China’s Xi’an opened last month, and Finnair Oyj is seeking to become a regional hub for flights between the two countries.