China and the Arctic: Evolving Geopolitics

China and the Arctic: Evolving Geopolitics

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 6 | Author: Teshu Singh | April 2016

To read the complete report click here

To cite: Teshu Singh. China and the Arctic: Evolving Geopolitics. NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 6. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, April 2016, available at

NSF 6There is growing need of oil and mineral resources in the mainland. The Arctic can cater to China’s future needs. In June 2014, a strategic assessment prepared by Defence Policy Research Centre of the of Academy of military science of PLA pointed, the Arctic as a key source of oil and gas as well as means of transport fossil fuels and other goods, even going as far to suggest that the region could be a ‘new Middle East and provide a new lifeline for China. Notably, access to the resources is crucial to China’s future economic, political and military expansion as a global power. It is already engaged in five year assessment 2011-2016 of the polar resources and governance that will help to formulate a better policy towards the region.

At the bilateral level, China is engaging in proactive diplomacy with the Arctic states; Iceland, Greenland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Also it is trying to avoid any conflict states such as Russia, Canada and the US that are closely associated with the region. China has also started developing bilateral relations with Arctic states. Unlike, the South China Sea and the East China Sea Chinese policies in the region will be pragmatic and no aggressive policies can be expected in this region. China has been advocating that Arctic is still under international waters and widely supports the term ‘global commons’ vis-a-vis the Arctic. It is closely watching the policy of littoral states towards the region and is trying to build gather supports from other countries that will share Chinese concerns on the issue of ‘global commons’ to Arctic resources, high seas and seabed resources.

Interestingly, in 2013 India was also granted the ‘Observer Status’ along with China. Since 2008, India already has a research station called Himadri and is looking forward to induct a Polar Research Vessel (ice-breaker, research cum supply vessel).Indian interests are not as assertive as the Chinese wherein they have declared themselves as ‘near arctic state. Nonetheless, recently India is trying to expand its diplomatic relation with the littoral countries of the region.

To read the complete report click here

About the Author: Teshu Singh is Senior Research Officer at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), New Delhi.

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