China Seeks to Boost its Role in the Arctic,

As of late, China has increased its engagement within the Arctic region. Natural resources, as well as new, trans-oceanic trade routes motivate Beijing to seek larger space for itself. As the region is effectively a closed one, China has to partner with regional states. So far Russia played this role, with two countries getting closer across the board due to common opposition to the US. Yet, increasingly China has looked to other players and its ambitions and independent exploration of the Arctic are sometimes at odds with Russian national interests. […]

Geographically, however, China is a less obvious player. Its closest territory is thousands of kilometers away from the generally agreed-upon perimeter in the Bering Strait. Nevertheless, China stepped into the region in 1925 with signing of the Spitsbergen Treaty, which attests to the sovereignty of Norway over the Archipelago of Spitsbergen and also gives equal rights for trade activities on the islands to all signed parties (as of today 46 signatories). Up until now, China traces the basis for its legitimate role in the Arctic affairs to the Treaty. […]

However, China’s active engagement is a more recent development, starting in 2013, when China became one of the 13 observer states of the Arctic Council. The Polar Silk Road – an integral part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – was introduced in 2017. Then in June 2018, Beijing announced plans to build its first 30,000-ton nuclear icebreaker, making China the second country (after Russia) to possess nuclear icebreakers. In the same year, China released a much anticipated white paper entitled “China’s Arctic Policy”, wherein it outlined its motivations, referring to itself as a “near-Arctic state.” Läs artikel