China highlights greater Arctic role
Infrastructure aid can contribute to exploration, expansion of sea routes
Published: Apr 09, 2017 09:28 PM

China will contribute more to the exploration and development of the Arctic especially in infrastructure and scientific research, experts said at a meeting in Shanghai on Saturday.

"Now that our diplomatic and political relations have been normalized, I am confident that we will enjoy even closer cooperation. The fact that China is looking to the High North is positive. It gives us a shared platform to build further on," Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg said.

Solberg made the remarks at the China-Norway Dialogue on Changes in the Arctic and International Cooperation in Shanghai.

"We have a clear vision. The Arctic should remain a safe, predictable and peaceful region, a region of international cooperation based on international law, a region where development is sustainable and where there is a good balance between commercial and industrial activity and environmental concerns," she added.

Changes in the Arctic directly affect China, especially its sea level when Arctic glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet melt. Arctic warming may also open new sea routes between East Asia and North America and Europe, Yang Huigen, director of Polar Research Institute of China, said.

Yang Jian, vice president of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times that China has been playing an important role in Arctic affairs.

China has been deeply involved in infrastructure, especially in railways, ports and telecommunications, which can contribute to the exploration and development of the Arctic, Yang Jian said.

China is also a major market for Arctic products, such as crude oil and seafood, Yang Jian  added.

China, Russia, Germany and Norway, among others, have used the Arctic shipping route, Yang said, adding that the route is also expected to help the Belt and Road initiative.

Since 1999, the China National Arctic Research Expedition has carried out seven cruise missions in the Arctic Ocean using the icebreaker Xuelong, and has established two research stations, the Yellow River Station at Ny Alysund in Norway and the Joint China-Iceland Aurora Observatory in Kallhor, Iceland.  

China and Norway should further cooperation on Arctic research, respond to Arctic ramifications and make greater contributions to global efforts toward a sustainable Arctic, Yang Huigen said.

Yang Jian told the Global Times that the Suez Canal and Panama Canal are reaching their full capacity. When the world rapidly develops, the Arctic shipping route will definitely play a more important role. All those involved should recognize its fragility and be mindful of protecting the environment.