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Beijing builds its influence in the Arctic

However, there is a region with fewer competitors on the radar, in which the rules are still set: the polar arctic.

China sees the opportunity to melt ice in the vast Arctic Sea. Beijing has begun to step up its efforts to open up new trade routes, search for oil and gas, and conduct climate change research, experts say.

Geographically, China is by no means near the Arctic Circle The Asian center of power had a major political disadvantage compared to eight countries of the Arctic Council, all of which have territory within the Arctic Circle.

Council members are divided over China's growing interest in the region. Some smaller economies, such as Iceland and Norway, see an opportunity, while others of strategic interest, such as Russia and Canada, are becoming more vigilant.

China is not the only non-Arctic state interested in the region, but by far the largest is China Polar County expert Marc Lanteigne of Massey University in New Zealand told CNN.

In 2013, it met with India, South Korea, Japan and Singapore to gain the status of non-voting observer in the Council.

"Overall, the assumption has prevailed that China will play there, but there is still some concern about the ambiguity regarding China's final," Lanteigne said.

  Secretary of State of the Arctic Council with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on May 11, 2017.

Polareidenstrasse [19659011InJanuaryBeijingpublisheditsfirstWhitePaperontheArcticstrategyclaimingalegitimateinterestintheregionwhiletryingtodispelfearsaboutitsterritorialambitions

It defines itself as an "Arctic state" in the document and says that environmental changes in the Arctic "have a direct impact on China's climate system and the ecological environment".

The white paper describes Beijing's plans for a "Polar Silk Road" as part of its multi-trillion dollar belt and road infrastructure project, a signature policy of President Xi Jinping whose government spends huge sums on building huge trade corridors around the world has world.

While the Belt and Road initiative in the West has been criticized for its concerns over China's debt to developing countries, Lanteigne says that some of the smaller Arctic stakeholders interested in building economic ties with Beijing welcome this ,

"It's a matter of Northern New York states to see the possibility of further Chinese shipping and possible new harbors," said Lanteigne

The idea of ​​a mutually beneficial partnership is precisely the reassuring message that China wanted to bring home in its Arctic policy with repeated references to "cooperation."

  The melting of sea ice goes from NASA study

There is a stark contrast of Arctic Council concerns about China's admission, as members feared that they might try to repeat their territorial course in the South China Sea in the Arctic Circle.

Beijing claims enormous territory in the South China Sea and has created heavily fortified artificial islands

By comparison, the situation in the According to experts, the Arctic is relatively peaceful and there are no serious territorial disputes. And the Arctic states are anxious to keep it that way.

"Full of Economic Potential"

Beijing claims that the main reason for his interest in the Arctic is scientific research.

In the white paper, a request was made to investigate the effects of climate change in order to "solve global environmental problems".

However, skeptics argue that China's Arctic ambitions are fueled primarily by the economic and political attractiveness of dominating a resource-rich area.

It is estimated that the Arctic can own almost one-third of the world's natural gas and 13 According to a report by Rachael Gosnell of the University of Maryland in% of the world's oil reserves.

And with temperatures in the region melting, once-passable shipping routes are an attractive and viable alternative for the world's second largest economy.

"The Arctic is full of economic opportunities," said Gosnell, who estimates that the region's annual economy exceeds $ 450 billion.

According to NASA, some global climate models predict that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer months through the middle of this century, making its waters likely to become an important shipping route.

"China really wants to get involved A position in which, should there be some kind of confusion or impetus for Arctic resources, China would be able to take advantage of that," said Lanteigne, the polar region expert.

To secure this position, she strengthens her position Arctic Skills. In September, China launched a second icebreaker named Xue Long 2 (Snow Dragon 2) with an expedition for the first half of 2019.

The freshly embossed ship is the first ship built in China, icebreaker. The China State Shipbuilding Corporation states that it will be able to cut through ice and do advanced research than its predecessor built abroad.

  China's first inland-built icebreaker, Xuelong 2, during an opening ceremony at a Shanghai shipyard in September.

Loss of Washington, Beijing's Profit

China was fast Harriet Moynihan, Associate Fellow at the British think tank Chatham House, recognizing the importance of investing in the Arctic at a time when there are few participants and even fewer laws to ultimately restructure Arctic governance in their favor.

China's growing involvement with the Arctic Circle coincided with Washington's growing lack of interest.

  US and China feud. Canada pays the price
Former Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson quit a Special Representative and Representative for the Arctic in 2017 when climate change curtailed the Trump government's priority list.
After World War II The United States had seven icebreakers in its fleet. In 2018, there are only two working icebreakers left, one of which is a heavy ship overdue for an update.

The Obama administration pursued an ambitious Arctic strategy to ensure that the US remains a strong regional power force, including plans to replace the heavy icebreaker by 2020.

However, it is unclear where the US now stands on these plans. The US Coast Guard, which operates the icebreakers, faces significant budget cuts as more and more funds for border security are considered.

"The fact that the Arctic is not a priority for the Trump administration has allowed China to take the wheel and accelerate its own Arctic policy," said Lanteigne.

Russia is arguably the most active Arctic state with a fleet of more than 40 icebreakers, and it is reluctant to allow countries outside the Arctic to develop the region.

But in the face of growing Western sanctions, Moscow's attitude toward China has warmed considerably. "Russia realized that China was one of the few remaining countries that could really contribute to the development of Siberia," Lanteigne said.

"The two countries have cooperated on a number of Arctic ventures, including a liquefied natural gas project."

With large parts of the Arctic still hard to reach for China, Beijing remains less important than investment in other parts of the world, such as Africa and South Asia.

But China's presence in the far north is likely to increase – whether the Arctic states are happy about it or not.

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