arctic_blog

Chinese arctic path

Growing  industry requires expanding resource and energy base, and opening of new  markets. In this regard, the Arctic vector seems to be a promising  direction for the People's Republic of China, since it allows Beijing to  not only solve some tactical tasks, but also significantly strengthen  its role in global politics.

China’s interest in the Far North  considering a certain shortage of raw materials and resources is quite  understandable. First, there are about 30% of unexplored gas reserves  and 13% of oil in this region. At the same time need in natural gas in  China is increasing and it is expected that by 2020 it will reach 300  billion cubic meters. However, China can produce only 200 billion cubic  meters. In this context, the Arctic with great resource potential and  relatively broad freedom of action acquired strategic importance for the  PRC. Secondly, the equally important goal of modern Beijing is to enter  new markets and increase exports. To build maritime communications with  Europe, China decided to take advantage of the transit potential of the  Arctic, instead of relying on existing routes through the Suez or  Panama canals. China considers the Northern Sea Route to be the most  preferred option for creating the Arctic transport corridor, since  Russia, like China, is seeking to pursue an independent policy in the  Arctic and shows willingness to invest in the region large funds.

The Arctic policy in China is  implemented by the Arctic and Antarctic Administration  - an  organization under the patronage of the Ministry of Natural Resources,  which manages the scientific expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic, as  well as strategic planning and ensuring international cooperation in  the regions.

Beijing's ambitions in the Northern  latitudes are proved by the fact that China recognizes itself as a state  that makes a significant contribution in the development of the region,  since its activities in the Arctic cover all key aspects. China spends  about $ 60 million annually for research in the Arctic alone. Beijing is  building the Arctic Research and Development Center in Shanghai and  plans to increase in five times the staff of scientists working on the  Far North theme – to one thousand.

In the “Policy of China in the Arctic”  published by the Information Bureau of the State Council of the People's  Republic of China at the end of January 2018, Beijing proclaims itself  as a near-arctic state. Geographical position does not allow it to be a  permanent member of the Arctic Council. China along with a number of  other countries is an observer in this organization, which gives it the  right to monitor its activities. However, Beijing cannot participate in  the decision making of the Arctic Council, so it is trying to influence  its activities through allies.

Beijing’s ambitions in the Far North are  shown in the interest in all projects related to the Arctic. In  particular, China is negotiating with Finland about laying fiber-optic  cable under the Arctic Ocean, which will help improve communication  between the financial centers of the PRC and European information hubs.  It is expected that, thanks to the implementation of these plans, the  digital traffic between Europe and Asia will double in the near future.

At the same time, according to a  specialist in China, East Asia and the Arctic at New Zealand University  M. Lanten, Beijing understands that Russia is a Chinese’s key partner in  the Arctic. Moscow and Beijing consider promising interaction in the  economic development of the Arctic. Both countries realize great  potential in cooperation and, naturally, want to use it.

Thus, although with a number of  restrictions, but, nevertheless, China is becoming an integral part of  the system of international relations in the Arctic. Despite the  outlying location from the Arctic, in the long run, Beijing is likely to  achieve its goal and become one of the main participants in the  development of Arctic's natural resources. In this context it should be  borne in mind that the inclusion of China in the Arctic dialogue creates  a different political reality that encourages regional players to  cooperate more closely both bilateral and multilateral basis. That will  ultimately contribute to the development of a more capacious and  balanced mechanism for exploration and preservation of a unique arctic  region.

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