China's Growing Interest in the Arctic

David Curtis Wright


China is interested in the Arctic primarily for its natural resources and navigation routes, although there may never be an official policy declaration to this effect. (China also claims to have interests in scientific study and climate change in the Arctic, but these are not as important to China as the first two given here.) China wants to have influence in Arctic affairs and does not want to feel shut out by the A5. China is currently seeking this influence through cultivating partnerships with small Arctic powers. This follows a two-year period of Arctic policy recommendation by Chinese academics from 2009 to 2010. China's sense of exceptionalism makes it long to achieve this objective of influence by whatever means necessary short of military confrontation. China may, in the coming years, throw its weight around diplomatically if it does not like developments in the Arctic. China wants to be a player, a developer, a stakeholder in the Arctic region, and not just a customer. But it is highly doubtful that China would ever seek to have military bases or permanent military assets there.

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