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China Engaging the Arctic

February 16, 2012

Diplomat

The United States is shifting its focus from the Atlantic across to the Pacific. However, if an Arctic century is on the horizon, then China is at the forefront of it. While Washington enhances its relationships across the Asia-Pacific basin, Beijing is busy engaging Arctic Ocean coastal states en masse. The Middle Kingdom is apparently interested in the commercial viability of new shipping lanes and developing the resources that lie underneath and along the Arctic seabed. Ostensibly to achieve its objectives, China is engaging the region at an unprecedented pace. Beijing’s comprehensive engagement of Arctic states demonstrates that China’s ambition isn’t just to be a Pacific power, but a global one. Questions that remain are: what is Beijing’s intention in the Arctic, and by extension what type of global power will China be?

China has been in the Arctic since the early 1990s, but only recently began seeking to enhance its engagement there as a permanent observer in the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues such as the management of resources, climate change, and Arctic environment maintenance. The Council has Full article here

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