Beijing talks little about its polar activities and is deliberately ambiguous when it does and therefore these moves have drawn little attention outside specialized professional communities.
ScandAsia’s readers represent such a specialized community. Our readers come from the Nordic nations and we have a keen interest in the Arctic. ScandAsia readers will recall several articles over the past few years calling our readers attention to China’s ambitions in our arctic sphere.
Not a single square meter of China is located inside the polar circle. Still, China increasingly portrays itself as one of the polar states. A polar state in Beijing’s understanding is a global giant, strong in military, scientific, and economic terms.
China’s focus on becoming a polar great power represents a fundamental re-orientation – a completely new way of imagining the world. China’s push into these regions encompasses maritime and nuclear security, the frontlines of climate change research, and the possibility of a resources bonanza.
Beijing regards our polar region as vital domains for fishing and shipping and hopes to exploit their rich reserves of energy and minerals. They regard Antarctica much the same. It plans to use its activities there to grow China’s global influence encouraged by the way the US has largely ignored their movements into these regions.
ScandAsia is proud to be at the forefront of this awareness among the Nordic countries. If we do not demand a rule based presence of China in the Articles our countries are likely to wake up too late.
China as a Polar Great Power
By Anne-Marie Brady
Cambridge University Press, 2017, 290 pages