China to build research center for Arctic region

China will expand its study of the Arctic’s resources as well as the region’s shipping and economic potential, the main Chinese institute for polar research said on Wednesday.

The Polar Research Institute of China said it plans to establish a China-Nordic Arctic Research Center in Shanghai to increase awareness and knowledge of the area and promote cooperation for its sustainable development.

The center, which will be launched in partnership with a number of research institutes in the Nordic region as soon as next year, will also include studies on Arctic climate change and its impact, as well as the policy and legislation related to the area.

The China-Nordic Arctic Research Center has been endorsed by the State Oceanic Administration, and will be funded by the Polar Research Institute of China. It will provide opportunities for Chinese and Nordic scholars to conduct Arctic research through fellowships and scholarships.

“The Arctic is a region where frequent economic activities are taking place,” Yang Huigen, head of the Polar Research Institute of China, told China Daily at the first symposium of China-Nordic Arctic cooperation in Shanghai on Wednesday.

The Arctic includes territories of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the US. These countries make up the Arctic Council — a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by Arctic governments and the region’s indigenous people— and cooperation with these countries is necessary if China wants to take part in resources development in the region, said Yang.

China’s move to establish the center comes after it was granted observer status on the Arctic Council, which confers the right to attend council meetings, but not voting rights. The Western world has a preconception that China covets the Arctic as it is rich in oil and gas, Yang said.

“But we insist that those resources are not ours, and China’s partnership with Arctic countries in the sector will come naturally as it is part of the widening economic cooperation among countries under the context of globalization.”

The program to establish the center has enlisted a number of partners including the Iceland Center for Research, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Denmark-based Nordic Institute of Asian Studies.

“The key of the program is to gather scholars and professionals, and find a research subject they and we are both interested in,” he added.

China is a latecomer to Arctic research, and its studies are mainly focused on natural science topics such as the shrinking of sea ice as well as climate and ecological change.



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