China’s assertive foreign policy is best known for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In Northern Europe, China is interested in developing the Polar Silk Road which, using the Northeast Passage route, could significantly cut down the transit time between Asia and Europe and provide alternative route to the target European market. The Tallinn–Helsinki connection should be seen as part of this route, which helps explain why the Chinese investor TouchStone Capital and state-owned construction companies have shown interest in building an undersea rail tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn (the “Talsinki tunnel”).
This paper analyses Chinese strategic interests through the BRI initiative in general and the Polar Silk Road in particular. With the focus on the motives of the host countries it tries to find out, how well they resonate with Chinese interests in the region. This analysis looks at the preparations made for the implementation of the project and describes the Chinese state actors involved in it. The final, largest section analyses the security risks involved in the implementation of the tunnel project and highlights the potential security risks that need to be taken into consideration by the host countries.