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Nuuk, Greenland (photo by M. Lanteigne)

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Welcome to Over the Circle (OtC), a site dedicated to news, politics and foreign policy in the Arctic region. With the ongoing changes in the circumpolar north due to climate change and ice erosion, the region has become the focus of much greater attention on a global scale, and as a result the politics of the Arctic are also undergoing rapid changes. This site will look at the politics of the ‘Arctic Eight’ (Canada, Denmark [Faroe Islands / Greenland] Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States), but also of non-Arctic states, including in Western Europe and East Asia, which are also quickly developing their own Arctic diplomacy policies.

Among the major topics in Arctic politics are economic development, environmental concerns, energy (oil and gas), shipping and new Arctic sea routes, and new and existing regional organisations, (like the Arctic Council). While there is much discussion about the opening of the Arctic, this site will examine regional and international news with an eye to examining just what this ‘opening’ really entails.

 

Russia Reinforces its Arctic Policies (With China Alongside)

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[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]
For almost two decades, the Russian government sought to redevelop its Arctic regions after a long period of neglect, not only recognising the growing economic importance of Russia’s northernmost lands but also due to concerns about other regional powers seeking to enhance their own presence in the Arctic Ocean. Much international attention has been placed on the ongoing policies of the Vladimir Putin government to re-open cold war era military bases and establish new installations, with the ‘Northern Clover’ (Северный клевер) installation on Siberia’s Kotelny Island / Остров Котельный and the larger and flashier ‘Arctic Trefoil’ (Арктический трилистник) base at Alexandra Land / Земля Александры, in the Franz Josef Land region of Siberia.

These endeavours not only recognise the growing strategic importance of the Arctic, in Moscow`s view, but also the potential for the Russian Arctic to become a secondary maritime trade route connecting Asia with Northern Europe. As well there exists  and the possibility of great power competition emerging in the region as tepid diplomatic relations between Russia and the West show few signs of improvement. However, the rebuilding of the military infrastructure along Russia’s Arctic coastlines is but one element of Moscow’s new thinking on the region, and many other components of Russian Arctic policy are beginning to include its big neighbour to the southeast, China.

Signs of a deepening in Russian Arctic policies, including in regards to the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in the Arctic Ocean, were abundant at the recently concluded International Arctic Forum in St Petersburg, the fifth such meeting Russia has held to highlight its government’s regional interests. During the event, numerous business agreements were signed with an eye towards Siberian economic development, including in the areas of energy, education and cultural exchanges, mining, land transportation and shipbuilding. The conference reportedly hosted more than 3600 representatives from Russian and international interests, as well as the leaders of four Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden).

These announcements follow the release of a five-year plan detailed [In Russian] by the Russian government in December of last year to support, along with private industries, development projects worth upwards of 5.5 trillion roubles (US$86 billion) on energy, resources and infrastructure in the Russian Arctic until 2025. There is also an ambitious call, as part of the ‘May Decrees’ (майские указы) issued by President Putin last year, to bolster Russian shipping via the NSR to eighty million tonnes, (up from approximately eighteen tonnes in 2018), by 2024, a goal which will require an expansion of Russia’s already significant icebreaker program. However, at the Russian Arctic conference, Aleksey Likhachev, head of the Russian nuclear power firm Rosatom (Росатом), made a more audacious claim that NSR shipping could actually grow to 92.6 million tonnes in five years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the International Arctic Forum in St Petersburg [Photo by Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv]
In his remarks at the St Petersburg event, President Putin suggested that by 2035, Russia would have an icebreaker fleet featuring thirteen heavy icebreakers, including nine nuclear powered icebreaking ships, and upgraded ports on either side of the NSR, specifically in Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula bordering Norway and Finland, and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East; (this week, France’s energy firm Total announced that it was interested in investing as much as ten percent into the development of the two ports).

Other new Arctic policies which the Putin government identified since the beginning of this year included new regulations [In Russian] for foreign vessels seeking to use the NSR for cargo transits. These include the stipulations that foreign ships give Moscow at least forty-five days notice before commencing an NSR transit, with the specifics of the vessel, including size, weight and engine type, submitted to Russian authorities in advance, with a Russian maritime pilot to be stationed on the vessel in question. The argument made by the Russian government is that such measures were necessary both due to environmental concerns and the growing numbers of vessels seeking to use the NSR, leading to questions about ensuring maritime safety.

However, these rules provoked strong criticism from the United States, which has traditionally viewed [pdf] the NSR as an international waterway and not as historical waters as claimed by Russia and the Soviet Union before it. As one US editorial argued, Washington should not allow the Arctic Ocean to become Russia’s ‘frigid Caribbean’, and suggested that the restrictions on NSR use were inconsistent with international law regarding the right of innocent passage [pdf]. In February this year, a US Admiral went further with his criticism of Moscow’s proposed NSR rules by stating that the Arctic was ‘nobody’s lake’. Russia has also continued to promote its argument for jurisdiction over the Lomonosov Ridge in the central Arctic Ocean, which if accepted by the United Nations would result in the legal extension of the Russian continental shelf into the waterway.

The US has also recently expressed concerns about the emerging linkages between Russia and China in the Arctic, especially as the region has now been officially incorporated into China’s Belt and Road (yidai yilu 一带一路) initiative, representing the ‘northern tier’ of China’s expanding network of maritime ‘Silk Road’ trading routes. China was well-represented at the St Petersburg meeting, and one major announcement to come out of the event involving Beijing was the creation of a China-Russia Arctic Research Centre (E Zhong beiji yanjiu zhongxin 俄中北极研究中心 / Китайско-Российского Арктического Научно-Исследовательского Центра).

This new Arctic research hub was the result of an agreement [In Russian] signed by representatives of the Moscow-based Russian Academy of Sciences’ Shirshov Institute for Ocean Studies and China’s National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology in Qingdao. Plans include the establishment of a joint study plan [In Chinese] for regional scientific research areas, including climate change issues, by next year. China has a similar research agreement with the Northern European Arctic states, namely the China-Nordic Arctic Research Centre (CNARC), founded in 2013.

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Russia’s ‘Arctic Trefoil’ base, Franz Josef Land [Photo via Mil.ru / Wikipedia]
This week, Russia’s ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, was upbeat about the growing number of opportunities for Sino-Russian Arctic cooperation, noting in an interview with the South China Morning Post that Chinese financial support was essential for many of Moscow’s Arctic infrastructure plans. The ambassador also stated that negotiations between the two governments on the specifics of the Power of Siberia 2 (Сила Сибири 2) project which, if successful, would see a new route created for Siberian natural gas shipments to China, were proceeding well. In addition to Beijing’s investment capabilities in the Arctic, Chinese technology in the areas of energy extraction and unmanned transport also make the country an attractive partner for developing Russian Arctic interests, as one regional expert recently noted.

The prospect of closer cooperation between Beijing in Moscow in Arctic affairs has further rattled foreign policymakers in Washington, and it was suggested that this partnership may factor heavily into an upcoming Arctic policy statement being prepared by the Donald Trump administration. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted he may attend next month’s Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi as a response to growing Chinese visibility in the Arctic. American concerns over a potential Sino-Russian ‘duumvirate’ in the Arctic, however, also reflect Washington’s own anaemic policies in the region.

Other than an agreement to build a new icebreaker, at a cost of an estimated US$925 million or more, for the US Coast Guard, the only other Arctic policy of note which emerged from the Trump government was an attempt to overturn a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling, implemented by President Barack Obama. A ruling from an Alaskan court in March of this year, stating that the move was unlawful and an overreach of presidential authority, effectively stymied Trump’s plans.

Although Russia remains sensitive about its Arctic sovereignty, especially as the region assumes a greater priority in the Putin government’s strategic calculations, agreements with China in Arctic development projects are likely to increase as Beijing views the Arctic as a rising strategic priority and Russian relations with the West continue to be strained.

 

Elsewhere…

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A look at Arctic news from around the region.

The Arctic has Entered an “Unprecedented State,” Researchers Warn,’ [World Economic Forum]

At the Edge of the Ice: Deep inside the Arctic Circle, Inuit Hunters Embrace Modern Technology but Preserve a Traditional Way of Life,’ [Smithsonian]

Costs and Reality of Reforming the Arctic Council,’ [The Arctic Institute]

How Permafrost Scientists Discovered Yukon Summers are Hottest in Nearly 14,000 Years,’ [CBC News North]

Canadian Arctic Report Urges Stronger Ties with NATO, Indigenous Communities, but Weak on Science, say Experts,’ [Eye on the Arctic]

Iceland is a Bitcoin Miner’s Haven, but Not Everyone is Happy,’ [Al-Jazeera]

 

New Article: China’s Emerging Strategies in the Arctic

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[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]
A new article by Marc Lanteigne, editor at OtC, has been published this week by the online journal High North News, which looks at the growing strategic dimension of China’s Arctic policies in the wake of the country’s first governmental White Paper on the region which was released in January last year.

The paper argues that despite Beijing having to play a great deal of catch-up in developing its Arctic diplomacy, especially at a time when the region is assuming a higher place on the agendas of many non-Arctic states, China has quickly established a strong political, economic and scientific presence in the region, via a series of bilateral and multilateral agreements with Arctic governments. As well, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which was initially not expected to make much of an impact in the Arctic, has now firmly established itself in the region in several ways.

Snow Fort or Ice Path? China’s Emerging Strategies in the Arctic,’ High North News, 19 April 2019.

格陵兰知多少二十问: 答案 (20 Questions about Greenland: Answers)

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以下是上期题目的答案及解析

 

1. 格陵兰人口数量为多少?

A 约16,000;B 约56,000; C 约350,000;  D 约570万

答案是 B

 

2. 格陵兰首府在哪里?

A 努克(Nuuk); B 纳萨克(Narsaq);C 以卢利萨特(Ilulissat);D 雷克雅未克(Reykjavik)

答案是 A;B、C 均为格陵兰其他城镇;D 是冰岛首都

 

3. 以下哪个是格陵兰大学的格陵兰语名称?

A Kayak  B Uummannaq C Inatsisartut D Ilisimatusarfik

答案是 D;A 是格陵兰语的’独木舟’;B 是格陵兰的一座东北小镇 (可读作’乌玛纳克’); C 是格陵兰议会名称

 

4. 以下哪种动物并不栖息在格陵兰?

A 北极熊; B 企鹅;C 环斑海豹;D 驯鹿

答案是 B,因为企鹅栖息在南极,而不是北极。

 

5. 格陵兰国旗的白色和红色分别代表什么?

A 冰雪和太阳;B 白云和太阳;C 北极熊和火焰;D 冰雪和火焰

答案是 A

 

6. 在格陵兰要从一个镇到另一个镇,以下哪种交通方式在目前最不可能使用?

A 坐船;B 坐飞机;C 坐火车;D 坐雪橇犬队

答案是 C,格陵兰目前并无铁路、地铁,城镇之间也无公路连接。

 

7. Kaffemik 指的是?

A 喝咖啡要加牛奶;B 咖啡销售效益好;C 咖啡有益于身心健康;D格陵兰人与亲友的社交活动

答案是 D

 

8. 格陵兰人拥有哪国国籍?

A  丹麦王国;B 格陵兰;C 冰岛;D 丹麦王国及格陵兰双重国籍

答案是 A,格陵兰于1953年成为丹麦王国的一部分,目前是自治地,尚未成为独立国家。

 

9. 除丹麦外,格陵兰最大的少数族裔来自何处?

A 冰岛;B 菲律宾;C 瑞典;D 法罗群岛

答案是 B;据统计,2017年格陵兰有204名菲律宾裔居民。

 

10. 一千年前,格陵兰因哪个人物而得名?

A 红胡子海盗埃里克 (Erik the Red);B Hans Egede;C 普罗米修斯;D Kim Kielsen

答案是 AHans Egede 是18世纪20年代到达格陵兰的传教士;普罗米修斯是希腊神话的神明之一;Kim Kielsen 则是格陵兰现任总理。

 

11. 如何用格陵兰语表达“谢谢”?

A Takk fyrir;B Tēnā koe;C Qujanaq;D ᓇᑯᕐᒦᒃ

答案是 C;A 是冰岛语;B 是新西兰毛利语;D 是伊努克缇图特语 ( Inuktitut),是加拿大、阿拉斯加以及少部分在格陵兰的因纽特人的语言。

 

12. 目前格陵兰有多少人口依然住在冰屋 (igloo)?

A 0%;B 4%;C 10%;D 24%

答案是 A

 

13. 目前占格陵兰出口份额最大的行业是?

A 采矿业;B 渔业;C 猪肉;淡水资源

答案是 B;渔业是格陵兰经济收入的支柱之一,采矿业尚未带来大规模收益,淡水资源出口目前还处于调查研究阶段;猪肉、牛肉、鸡肉等主要从丹麦进口。

 

14. 以下哪种啤酒是格陵兰牌子?

A  嘉士伯;B Viking;C Brennivín;D Godthaab Bryhus

答案是 D; A 是丹麦牌子;B、C 均为冰岛品牌。

 

15. 以下何种是格陵兰目前正在开采的宝石?

A 祖母绿;B  红宝石;C 紫水晶;D 钻石

答案是 B,除渔业资源外,格陵兰也拥有丰富的矿藏和金属,比如黄金、稀土、铜、铁、红宝石和蓝宝石等。

 

16. 格陵兰人口以哪个原住民群体为主?

 A 涅涅茨人(Nenets);B 爱斯基摩人(Eskimo);C 因纽特人(Inuit);D 萨米人(Saami)

答案是 C,Inuit 是Inuk 的复数形式,’因纽特’的意思即是’人’; ‘爱基斯摩’意即’吃生肉的人’ (含贬义),在过去也指代以纽特人;涅涅茨人主要分布在俄罗斯,而萨米人分布在俄罗斯、芬兰、挪威和瑞典。

 

17. 以下哪位是格陵兰首位女性总理?

A Sara Olsvig    B Aleqa Hammond C Aki-Matilda Hoegh-Dam D Ida Heinrich

答案是BSara Olsvig 是  Inuit Ataqatigiit 政党的前党魁,于2018年10月宣布无限期退出政坛;Aki-Matilda Hoegh-Dam 是格陵兰政治活动家之一;Ida Heinrich 是格陵兰歌剧演唱家,于2019年2月病逝。

       

18. 以下哪座城市并未与努克结为友好城市

A 特罗姆瑟;B 雷克雅未克;C 广州;D 长春

答案是 C

 

19. 以下哪种动物制品禁止普通游客携带出境?

A 艺术品店出售的画作; B 带有Great Greenland 标志的海豹皮;C 北极熊皮毛;D 商店出售的虾干

答案是 C

           

20. 以下哪项关于2009年生效的 Self-rule Agreement 是错误的?

A 格陵兰有权谋求独立;B 格陵兰可单独管理防务安全;C 丹麦向格陵兰提供年度财政补助;D 丹麦有权负责与格陵兰有关的外交事务

答案是 B,根据 Self-rule Agreement,丹麦王国依然负责格陵兰的外交、防务安全等事宜。

 

Lars Villadsen 对答案解析亦有贡献,在此表示感谢。

[未经允许,请勿转载]

格陵兰知多少二十问 (20 Questions about Greenland)

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[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]
[This is the second in a series of Chinese language articles about Greenland by Mingming Shi for OtC.]

本篇含20道关于格陵兰知识的单项选择题,部分答案可参考《格陵兰概览》一文。:)

 

1. 格陵兰人口数量为多少?

A 约16,000;B 约56,000; C 约350,000;  D 约570万

 

2. 格陵兰首府在哪里?

A 努克(Nuuk); B 纳萨克(Narsaq);C 以卢利萨特(Ilulissat);D 雷克雅未克(Reykjavik)

 

3. 以下哪个是格陵兰大学的格陵兰语名称?

A Kayak;  B Uummannaq; C Inatsisartut; D Ilisimatusarfik

 

4. 以下哪种动物并不栖息在格陵兰?

A 北极熊; B 企鹅;C 环斑海豹;D 驯鹿

 

5. 格陵兰国旗的白色和红色分别代表什么?

A 冰雪和太阳;B 白云和太阳;C 北极熊和火焰;D 冰雪和火焰

 

6. 在格陵兰要从一个镇到另一个镇,以下哪种交通方式在目前最不可能使用?

A 坐船;B 坐飞机;C 坐火车;D 坐雪橇犬队

 

7. Kaffemik 指的是?

A 喝咖啡要加牛奶;B 咖啡销售效益好;C 咖啡有益于身心健康;D格陵兰人与亲友的社交活动

 

8. 格陵兰人拥有哪国国籍?

A  丹麦王国;B 格陵兰;C 冰岛;D 丹麦王国及格陵兰双重国籍

 

9. 除丹麦外,格陵兰最大的少数族裔来自何处?

A 冰岛;B 菲律宾;C 瑞典;D 法罗群岛

 

10. 一千年前,格陵兰因哪个人物而得名?

A 红胡子海盗埃里克 (Erik the Red);B Hans Egede;C 普罗米修斯;D Kim Kielsen

 

11. 如何用格陵兰语表达“谢谢”?

A Takk fyrir;B Tēnā koe;C Qujanaq;D ᓇᑯᕐᒦᒃ

 

12. 目前格陵兰有多少人口依然住在冰屋 (igloo)?

A 0%;B 4%;C 10%;D 24%

 

13. 目前占格陵兰出口份额最大的行业是?

A 采矿业;B 渔业;C 猪肉;D 淡水资源

 

14. 以下哪种啤酒是格陵兰牌子?

A  嘉士伯;B Viking;C Brennivín;D Godthaab Bryhus

 

15. 以下何种是格陵兰目前正在开采的宝石?

A 祖母绿;B  红宝石;C 紫水晶;D 钻石

 

16. 格陵兰人口以哪个原住民群体为主?

A 涅涅茨人(Nenets);B 爱斯基摩人(Eskimo);C 因纽特人(Inuit);D 萨米人(Saami)

 

17. 以下哪位是格陵兰首位女性总理?

A Sara Olsvig;  B Aleqa Hammond; C Aki-Matilda Hoegh-Dam; D Ida Heinrich

       

18. 以下哪座城市并未与努克结为友好城市?

A 特罗姆瑟;B 雷克雅未克;C 广州;D 长春

 

19. 以下哪种动物制品禁止普通游客携带出境?

A 艺术品店出售的画作; B 带有Great Greenland 标志的海豹皮;C 北极熊皮毛;D 商店出售的虾干

           

20. 以下哪项关于2009年生效的 Self-rule Agreement 是错误的?

A 格陵兰有权谋求独立;B 格陵兰可单独管理防务安全;C 丹麦向格陵兰提供年度财政补助;D 丹麦有权负责与格陵兰有关的外交事务

 

答案将在下一篇文章公布。:)

Over the Circle 总编辑 Marc Lanteigne 对题目设计亦有贡献,在此表示感谢。

[未经允许,请勿转载]