China unveils its Arctic ambitions, declaring it’s a “near Arctic state” – by Jane George (Nunatsiaq News – January 29, 2018)

Policy promotes “Polar Silk Road” for circumpolar shipping

China is ready to take its place at the top of the world, according to the country’s new Arctic policy paper. “China is an active participant, builder and contributor in Arctic affairs who has spared no efforts to contribute its wisdom to the development of the Arctic region,” states the policy white paper, released last Friday, Jan. 26.

In the policy, China says it’s a “Near-Arctic State,” one of the continental states that are closest to the Arctic.

As well, “the natural conditions of the Arctic and their changes have a direct impact on China’s climate system and ecological environment, and, in turn, on its economic interests in agriculture, forestry, fishery, marine industry and other sectors,” the policy paper said.

“The fact that the Chinese took the time to develop and present a public policy statement on the Arctic is important onto itself. This is an authoritarian government that does not need nor does provide public policy documents. This demonstrates the importance that the Chinese place on the Arctic,” Rob Huebert from the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies told Nunatsiaq News.

The policy paper, issued by the State Council Information Office, lists all the ways China has already become involved in the Arctic, such as by hosting an Arctic Science Summit Week and sitting as an observer at the Arctic Council.

China also lists the various areas where it wants to do more work: “practical cooperation in all fields, especially regarding climate change, scientific expeditions, environmental protection, ecosystems, shipping routes, resource development, submarine fiber-optic cables, cultural exchanges, and capacity building.”

The policy paper manages at times to sound both altruistic and self-serving.

China says it wants “to build a community with a shared future for mankind and contribute to peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic.”

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