After more than two years of speculation, the government of China announced the publication of its first ever governmental White Paper on Arctic policy (Chinese version here) on 26 January, following in the footsteps of its East Asian neighbours, namely Japan and South Korea, which have also released policy documents detailing their emerging Arctic interests. However, as the second-largest economy in the world and a rising global power, China is the largest ‘non-Arctic’ state to develop a comprehensive Arctic policy.
When various elements of Beijing’s circumpolar northern diplomacy began to appear after China became a formal observer in the Arctic Council in 2013, there was much speculation as to potential contents of a Chinese Arctic policy document. What can now be confirmed is that despite its lack of Arctic borders, Beijing nonetheless now considers itself a significant Arctic actor, whose regional interests have moved well beyond strictly scientific diplomacy and now include a wide array of economic concerns as well as security areas. Moreover, the paper confirmed the Arctic would become one of the many components of China’s ever-expanding ‘Belt and Road’ trade initiative.
An analysis of the White Paper has been published in the online Asia-Pacific news and analysis journal The Diplomat, written by OtC’s editor, Marc Lanteigne, and Mingming Shi.
‘China Stakes Its Claim to the Arctic,’ The Diplomat, 29 January 2018.