First Chinese ship has crossed the Arctic
China sent it’s first ship across the Arctic Ocean this week, after a record thaw has opened possible new trade routes.
The icebreaker Xuelong (Snow Dragon) arrived in Iceland this week, after sailing the northern route along the coast of Russia.
China has shown a growing interest in the arctic, which is rich in oil and gas. A widespread thaw across the region has also opened up the possibility of creating a commercial shipping route between the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Expedition leader Huigen Yang, head of the Polar Research Institute of China, said he had expected a lot more ice along the route at this time of year than the vessel encountered.
"To our astonishment ... most part of the Northern Sea Route is open," he told Reuters TV, adding that Beijing was interested in the “monumental change” in the polar environment caused by climate change.
Sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean is on track to beat a record low set in 2007, which threatens the hunting lifestyles of wildlife such as polar bears and seals.
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A measurement of arctic sea ice on August 13th fell to 1.97 million square miles, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center – equalling an area smaller than the whole of Brazil. Sea ice tends to reach it’s smallest in September, before expanding as winter approaches.
China, the world’s second biggest economy, is now the top polluter in the world, emitting more CO² than the US, Russia and the EU.
Jan Gunnar Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, spoke to Reuters, claiming that: “China’s interest is a mix of business, science and geo-politics.”
Winther said that research into climate change in the Arctic was also relevant to China's understanding of weather patterns that could affect its farmers.
A number of Chinese companies, such as Hyundai, could be provided with the opportunity to supply equipment to aid drilling for oil. The country has applied to become an observer at the Arctic Council, which comprises of the US, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.