China and the Artic – International Relations and the Arctic
An article in The Economist today discusses China and the Arctic, which is detailed in International Relations and the Arctic edited by Robert W. Murray and Anita Dey Nuttall, which has just been published by Cambria Press.
The article echoes the findings of their study regarding China’s strong interest. The book states that: “China’s northward gaze continues to receive the most attention in political, media, and academic circles. Much of this arises from the perceived concern over the impact a vast, resource-hungry economy such as China’s will have on the Arctic, where new maritime routes for trade could potentially be charted and resources such as hydrocarbons and minerals could become economically viable for exploitation. Since 2007, China has participated as an ad hoc observer at Arctic Council meetings, which allowed it to gain a better understanding of the council’s work. It had also officially expressed its intentions to become a permanent observer to the Arctic Council since 2008. … In the long term, the resources they are now dedicating to strengthening their ability to operate in the polar regions demonstrate that China will increasingly be an important player in the region.”
The book also notes India’s interest: “Connected to India’s position on wanting observer status is, no doubt, the political calculation India made when noting China’s efforts at gaining permanent observer status at the Arctic Council. India’s historic rivalry with China—which saw two wars fought between them, as well as their competing geostrategic ambitions centering on the Siachen Glacier in the eastern Karakoram range of the Himalaya mountains (the Hindu Kush-Himalayan and Tibetan plateau region is often regarded as the “Third Pole”)—brings another geopolitical dimension to the nature of the interests expressed by these two large Asian countries in the polar regions, particularly the developments taking place in the Arctic.”
In the conclusion of the chapter on Asia and the Arctic, the authors caution that: “The gradual disappearance of Arctic sea ice raises serious sovereignty and security issues, some of which are increasingly evident in evolving relationships between the eight Arctic states and observer states such as China, Japan, South Korea, and India.”
The book is the first systematic study of Arctic international relations which brings together the world’s leading experts in Arctic affairs to demonstrate the multifaceted and essential nature of circumpolar politics. This volume successfully presents the reader with the theoretical tools necessary to approach the study of the Arctic, comprehensive studies of the policies of the eight Arctic states, an introduction to those non-Arctic states pursuing Arctic goals of their own, and the various institutional bodies and frameworks that address Arctic issues. Together, they paint a picture of a region undergoing profound change both politically and environmentally, and serve to map ways forward to a new and sophisticated understanding of Arctic international relations.
International Relations and the Arctic is core reading for political scientists, historians, anthropologists, geographers and any other observer interested in the politics of the Arctic region.
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