In August, the Arctic’s oldest and thickest sea ice broke up, releasing water on Greenland’s northern coast that typically remains frozen throughout the year. Occurring for the second time this year, the melting ice not only raises environmental concerns, but also brings the potential for geopolitical change. China presents a driving force behind such change, moving to take advantage of the shifting landscape and the resources that may soon become more readily accessible. As China pushes to assert itself on the Arctic stage, the United States’ ability to engage with and manage China’s Arctic activities is constrained by the lack of a targeted Arctic policy.
Recently, China has ramped up its efforts to involve itself in the region. In 2017, the nation conducted five Arctic voyages and held high-level meetings with all eight members of the Arctic Council. A senior Chinese delegation met with officials in Iceland, and President Xi Jinping met with leaders of the other seven countries, including a stopover in Alaska. Most notably, in January 2018, Beijing released its Arctic white paper. By compiling its Arctic policy for a foreign audience, China has endeavored to further assert and legitimize its interests in the region before the international community.
This article was originally published by The National Interest on September 30, 2018. Read the full article here.
By Alison McFarland, Research Intern with the China Program.