Chinese Navy – Race to the North: China's Arctic Strategy and its Implications

US Naval War College Review – Non-arctic states, including China, India, and Italy, as well as the European Union collectively, are making preparations to exploit a seasonally ice-free Arctic, thus complicating the Arctic’s already fragile security environment. As the Finnish Foreign Minister stated in 2009, “the Arctic is evolving from a regional frozen backwater into a global hot issue.” Most notable among these external actors is the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which has maintained a vast, well-funded Arctic research apparatus since the mid-1990s and has invested heavily in Arctic-resource projects in recent years. For China’s energy import–dependent economy, Arctic resources and sea-lanes present a welcome strategic remedy. In light of the nation’s growing Arctic interests, Chinese leaders have begun to promulgate the notion that China is a “near-Arctic state” and a “stakeholder” in Arctic affairs. Notwithstanding China’s assertiveness with respect to its Arctic interests, important questions remain as to how it will pursue these ambitions, as it possesses neither Arctic territory nor the ability to vote on official policy at the Arctic Council. Cognizant of these inherent disadvantages, the PRC is leveraging its economic, political, and diplomatic might in order to secure for itself a say in Arctic affairs.