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China expands Belt and Road to the Arctic

Beijing warms diplomacy with region's states amid trade, environmental issues

One of Canada's many Arctic islands: China sees opportunities with the receding of ice in the Arctic Ocean.   © Reuters/NASA

TOKYO -- China's Belt and Road Initiative partly echoes the famed Ming dynasty navigator Zheng He's seven voyages to the western seas.

Leading huge ships with a total crew of over 20,000, Zheng's ships visited ports across the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Africa, "not as conquerors with warships, guns or swords" but as "friendly emissaries" sailing treasure-loaded ships, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in the keynote speech of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing on May 14.

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