Reports | 26 November 2012

China's Arctic aspirations

China wants to be part of the Arctic order and, as a rising power, emphasizes the global implications of the Arctic’s melting ice. Although several non-Chinese observers have described China’s actions in the Arctic as ‘more assertive’, and the Chinese Government has taken steps to protect what it perceives as its key interests in the region, China’s Arctic policies are still in a nascent stage of formulation.

This Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Policy Paper represents the first comprehensive mapping of the agencies and individuals involved in the formulation of Arctic policies and an assessment of the motives underlying China’s Arctic activities. The authors show that, while China recognizes that it is an ‘Arctic outsider’— without sovereign rights in the Arctic — it nevertheless sees numerous economic opportunities opening up in there. It consequently seeks to influence discussions and decisions on how the Arctic should be governed.

  • Linda Jakobson

China wants to be part of the Arctic order and, as a rising power, emphasizes the global implications of the Arctic’s melting ice. Although several non-Chinese observers have described China’s actions in the Arctic as ‘more assertive’, and the Chinese Government has taken steps to protect what it perceives as its key interests in the region, China’s Arctic policies are still in a nascent stage of formulation.

This Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Policy Paper represents the first comprehensive mapping of the agencies and individuals involved in the formulation of Arctic policies and an assessment of the motives underlying China’s Arctic activities. The authors show that, while China recognizes that it is an ‘Arctic outsider’— without sovereign rights in the Arctic — it nevertheless sees numerous economic opportunities opening up in there. It consequently seeks to influence discussions and decisions on how the Arctic should be governed.

  • Linda Jakobson
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Key Findings

  • China’s Arctic policies are still in a nascent stage of formulation.
  • China rejects the notion that the Arctic states alone should decide Arctic issues because many non-Arctic states will be affected by the Arctic’s changing environment.
  • The Chinese Government will persist in its diplomatic efforts to increase China’s chances of being included in decisions pertaining to Arctic governance and resource exploitation.