China has started paying attention to the strategic implications of the melting of Arctic ice and could seek a more active role in regulating use of the region, a new report said yesterday.
The findings of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's paper indicate that the Arctic could emerge as another area in which China starts defining global strategic interests, following investments in Africa and moves to build a presence in the Indian Ocean.
SIPRI said the prospect of the Arctic being navigable during summer months had driven Beijing to allocate more funds for polar research, and scholars were pushing the government to develop an Arctic strategy.
“Because China's economy is reliant on foreign trade, there are substantial commercial implications if shipping routes are shortened during the summer months each year,” the report said. Taking the Northern route through an ice-free Arctic could cut the trip from Shanghai to Hamburg by 6,400km compared with the Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal and piracy-induced high insurance costs could be avoided.
A potential strategic interest of China could be in the extraction of natural resources of the Arctic, the report said.
Linda Jakobson, author of the report, said although China had a strong polar research programme, Beijing had yet to research the economic and security implications of an ice-free Arctic as it was “wary that active overtures would cause alarm in other countries due to China's size and status as a rising global power”.
But a small group of vocal scholars have started looking at the Arctic from a political perspective, identifying threats and opportunities for China in the region. “China is particularly wary of Russia and whether it might demand high passage fees which could erase some or most of the potential efficiency gains,” Ms Jakobson told the FT. Geographic and political factors made the strategic situation in the Arctic “much more complicated” than the Antarctic.
In spite of the low-key official attitude, Ms Jakobson believes that Beijing has an agenda in the Arctic, including the adjustment of international laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to the new situation and the hope for permanent observership in the Arctic Council, a regional governmental body.
尽管中国官方采取了低调姿态，但雅各布森相信，北京方面拥有自己的北极议程，包括修订相关的国际法以适应新的形势，例如《联合国海洋法公约》(United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)；并希望在区域性的政府间机构北极理事会(Arctic Council)获得永久观察员身份。
The US Congress moved closer to punishing China for allegedly manipulating its currency, as a key committee of the House of Representatives voted to advance legislation that could