The Arctic Institute is an interdisciplinary and independent think tank with a mission of developing solutions for challenges in the circumpolar north by providing data, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers, researchers, and the public.
Over the past decade, China has shown an irrefutable growth of involvement in the Arctic region. In light of this development, the Arctic Institute launched the China Series which will offer a comprehensive account of China’s policies and interests in the Arctic. The China Series will consist of numerous articles and commentaries on China’s Arctic involvement from the angles of politics, economy, environment and social impact.
In January of 2018, a white paper titled “China’s Arctic Policy” was published by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. It solidified and expressed China’s interest in the region by setting policy goals and plans for participation by the government. The policy goal is simply stated as understanding, protecting, developing and participating in the governance of the Arctic, so as to safeguard the common interests of all countries and the international community in the Arctic, and promote sustainable development of the Arctic. It also sets China up as “near-Arctic state” thus giving it rights in the region to conduct scientific research, navigate, perform flyovers, fish, lay submarine cables and pipelines, and even explore and exploit natural resources in the Arctic high seas.
At the time this blog post is written, the first four texts have been published in the China Series. They cover China’s involvement in Greenland, China’s black carbon emissions, US concerns about Chinese threats in the Arctic, and China’s Arctic identity. The first article “The tortuous path of China’s win-win strategy in Greenland” by Marco Volpe (MSc.) examines the improvement of bilateral relationships between China and the Arctic States by investing into the regions, doing joint research and taking on environmental and safety challenges. The second text “Reducing China’s Black Carbon Emissions: An Arctic Dimension” by Yulia Yamineva (PhD, senior researcher at the Centre for Climate, Energy and Environmental Law, University of Eastern Finland) takes an environmental angle and delves into China’s black carbon emissions. The text challenges China’s policy on black carbon emissions and highlights the importance of future co-operation because of the vast possible impact globally. The third text goes into the risks relating to China joining the “race to the North”. Titled “Defining the Chinese threat in the Arctic” and written by Yun Sun (Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center), it highlights how the Arctic is becoming a new domain of the power struggle between the United States and China. The fourth text of the series “Identity and Relationship-Building in China’s Arctic Diplomacy” by Marc Lanteigne (Associate Professor of Political Science at UiT-The Arctic University of Norway) touches on the importance of the relationships of China and other stakeholders in the Arctic and the identity China is forming as a part of its Arctic diplomacy.
According to the Arctic Institute, the articles will help facilitate cooperation with China in the region by promoting the understanding of the political, economic, and environmental dimensions of China’s Arctic engagement. Currently, China is involved in mostly an economic capacity through a multitude of projects such as infrastructure and mining operations. In contrast, the governance involvement of China has been rather limited. The underlying message of the China Series seems to be that it is the job of policymakers to harness this presence for the good of the region.
This blog post was written by one of the Center’s interns, Jakub Pichna. Jakub is a Master’s student at the University of Helsinki’s International Business Law program with a BSc. in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Turku.