Chinese Activities in the Arctic: The Regional Perceptions

In January 2018, China released its first ever Arctic white paper, pronouncing to the world its interests, priorities and approaches to the Arctic region. China has been keen on legitimizing and maximizing its interests and involvement in Arctic politics and development. Its most recent pronouncement of the Polar Silk Road, a major endeavor launched in collaboration with Russia, could have major implications for the future of the Arctic region.  While the white paper is aimed at mitigating suspicion and hostility toward China’s rising role in the Arctic, the high-profile nature of the announcement has raised further concerns about China’s ambition in the region. What are the key Chinese approaches to the Arctic? How do the Arctic states perceive China’s proclaimed interests and cooperative approach to the Arctic? What is likely to be the future of China-Russia cooperation in the development of energy resources and shipping routes in the Arctic? The Stimson Center discussion will seek to address these key questions.

WHAT: The Stimson Center invites you to participate in a discussion on China’s evolving approaches to the Arctic as well as the perceptions and reactions by the Arctic states. The event is on-the-record.
WHERE: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC, 20036
WHEN: Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 12:30-2:00 PM (Lunch will be served.)
FOLLOW: @StimsonCenter on Twitter for event news and use #StimsonNow to join the conversation.



Helge Blakkisrud, Senior Research Fellow, Head of the Research group on Russia, East Asia and International Trade at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Oslo, and Associate Professor at the Norwegian University Center in St Petersburg, Russia

Blakkisrud’s research interests include the development of Russian federalism and center–region relations, including how these relations are played out in Russia’s High North and Far East. He has also been working extensively on nation-building, nationalism and national identity in Eurasia. Blakkisrud has been a guest lecturer at the OSCE Academy, Bishkek, since 2008. In 2009–2010, he was a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at UC Berkeley.



Robert Orttung¸ Associate Research Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University and Research Director GW Sustainability Collaborative 

Orttung received his PhD in Political Science from UCLA in 1992. He has published widely on Russian politics, examining aspects of regionalism, energy developmpent, organized crime and corruption, and the Olympics. He current research focuses on Arctic urban sustainability. His edited volume Sustaining Russia’s Arctic Cities: Resource Politics, Migration, and Climate Change is now available in paperback from BergHahn.


Elana Wilson Rowe, Research Professor at NUPI and an Adjunct Professor at Nord University (Bodø, Norway)

Elana Wilson Rowe holds a PhD in Geography/Polar Studies from the University of Cambridge (2006). Her areas of expertise include international relations in the Arctic, science and expert knowledge in global governance, climate politics and Russian foreign and northern policy. She is the author of Russian Climate Politics: When Science Meets Policy (Palgrave, 2009) and Arctic Governance: Power in cross-border cooperation (Manchester University Press, 2018).

Alexander Sergunin, Professor of International Relations at the St. Petersburg State University, Russia

Sergunin received his Ph.D. (history) from the Moscow State University (1985) and habilitation (political science) from the St. Petersburg State University (1994). His fields of research and teaching include Arctic politics, Russian foreign policy thinking and making, and International Relations Theory. His most recent book-length publications include: Russia in the Arctic. Hard or Soft Power? (Stuttgart, 2016) (with Valery Konyshev); Explaining Russian Foreign Policy Behavior: Theory and Practice (Stuttgart, 2016); U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System: Past, Present, Future (St. Petersburg, 2015) (with Valery Konyshev and Valeria Shatzkaya); Russian Strategies in the Arctic: Avoiding a New Cold War (Moscow, 2014) (with Lassi Heininen and Gleb Yarovoy); Contemporary Military Strategy (Moscow, 2014) (with Valery Konyshev); Contemporary International Relations Theories (Moscow, 2013) (with Valery Konyshev et al).

Yun Sun, co-Director, East Asia Program; Director of the China Program, Stimson Center

Sun’s expertise is in Chinese foreign policy, U.S.-China relations and China’s relations with neighboring countries and authoritarian regimes. From 2011 to early 2014, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, jointly appointed by the Foreign Policy Program and the Global Development Program, where she focused on Chinese national security decision-making processes and China-Africa relations. From 2008 to 2011, Yun was the China Analyst for the International Crisis Group based in Beijing, specializing on China’s foreign policy towards conflict countries and the developing world.


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