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China pledges to build 'Polar Silk Road' over 2021-2025

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SHANGHAI, March 5 (Reuters) - China will construct a "Polar Silk Road" and actively participate in the development of Arctic and Antarctic regions, it said in its new 2021-2025 "five-year plan" published on Friday.

The plan said China would "participate in pragmatic cooperation in the North Pole" and "raise its ability to participate in the protection and utilisation of the South Pole".

China has been eyeing lucrative mineral resources as well as potential new shipping routes in Arctic regions, as ice caps recede as a result of rising temperatures.

It released a white paper in 2018 highlighting its plans to create new freight routes linking Asia and Europe via the Northeast, Northwest and Central Passages of the Arctic, raising concerns about the fragile environment of the region.

At the end of last year, China also announced plans to launch a new satellite to track shipping routes and monitor changes in sea ice in the Arctic. It plans to launch the satellite in 2022.

(Reporting by David Stanway Editing by Shri Navaratnam)