China has declared that it plans to ship cargo through the Northwest Passage, a series of waterways in the Arctic Circle over which Canada claims sovereignty.
Chinese maritime authorities tacitly declared the news by printing a lengthy guide to Arctic shipping and navigation; a state spokesperson then confirmed it to reporters on Tuesday, the Globe and Mail reports.
“There will be ships with Chinese flags sailing through this route in the future,” spokesperson Liu Pengfei said.
Chinese state media has called the proposed shipping route a “golden waterway” for future trade as it would drastically cut travel times between China and North America.
But move could pose “the biggest direct challenge to Canadian sovereignty in the Northwest Passage,” University of Calgary professor Rob Huebert told the Globe and Mail. Though Canada claims sovereignty over the waterways, the U.S. believes the passage to be international waters.
China has developed a reputation for its territorial assertiveness over matters of trade, particularly in the South China Sea, where it has constructed artificial islands in waters claimed by neighboring countries.
- Meet TIME’s Newest Class of Next Generation Leaders
- After Visiting Both Ends of the Earth, I Realized How Much Trouble We’re In
- Google Is Making It Easier to Remove Personal Info From Search
- Oil Companies Posted Huge Profits. Here’s Where The Cash Will Go (Hint: Not Climate)
- Column: We Asked Hundreds of Americans About Abortion. Their Feelings Were Complicated
- A Short History of the Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of the Marcos Family
- Long-Lasting Birth Control Is Already Hard to Get. Advocates Worry It May Only Get Worse
- Who Should Be on the 2022 TIME100? Vote Now