China spells out Arctic policy for first time in White Paper

28 January, 2018, 01:07 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou speaks during a press conference at the State Council Information Office in Beijing Friday Jan. 26 2018. China is seeking to allay concerns about its increasingly prominent activities in the Arctic

Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said China is interested in participating in scientific studies and the exploitation of new sea routes that have opened up with the receding of sea ice.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the heads of several Arctic Council members past year, and touched on his plans for a "Polar Silk Road".

In a policy white paper the State Council Information Office issued, China said it would invite companies to develop infrastructure along the shipping lanes now accessible because of global warming and use the routes for commercial voyages, Reuters reported.

A top Chinese diplomat sought Friday to allay concerns about his country's increasingly prominent activities in the Arctic, saying Beijing won't interfere in the interests of nations in the region.

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In its first policy paper on the Arctic, Beijing acknowledges Chinese territory doesn't touch the Arctic Circle. "While pursuing its own interests, China will pay due regard to the interests of other countries and the broader global community".

"China will work with all countries to build the Silk Arctic Road by developing transport routes in the region", says a documents published by the Chinese authorities.

Great importance will be placed to navigation security. "Its desire to become a significant player in the Arctic has largely emerged only in the past few years under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who first referred to China as an upcoming "polar-region power" during a 2014 state visit in Australia", the Financial Times observes.

The marine environment is a key area for Arctic environmental protection.

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It said China also eyes development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-fossil energies, fishing and tourism in the region, jointly with Arctic states, while "respecting the tradition and culture of Arctic residents", including indigenous peoples, and conserving the natural environment.

The document said that Beijing will "enhance its ability to understand, protect and develop the Arctic, and participate in worldwide cooperation in Arctic affairs".

China has announced its ambition to extend its One Road, One Belt initiative to the Arctic.

The United States is one of eight Arctic states together with Russia, Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

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