China granted observer status by the Arctic Council.
“The Arctic is another Africa for China,” Humpert said in an interview, referring to China’s investment in Africa for its natural resources. “With minimal investment, they can be in a position, twenty, thirty, fifty years down the road, to yield a big return and have a controlling influence.” Malte Humpert, executive director of the Arctic Institute, a Washington policy group
For more, see What Is China’s Arctic Game Plan? (the Atlantic, May 16, 2013)
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China Granted Access to Arctic Club as Resource Race Heats Up
By Nicole Gaouette and Niklas Magnusson
Source – Bloomberg Businessweek, published May 15, 2013
China was granted observer status by the Arctic Council, giving the world’s second-largest economy more influence amid an intensifying search for resources in the globe’s most northern region.
The eight-member council at a summit today in Kiruna, Sweden, also granted observer status to Japan, India, Italy, Singapore, and the Republic of Korea. The European Union application was deferred until members are satisfied that issues of concern — largely Canadian objections about EU restrictions on seal products — have been allayed.
“The symbolic importance for China shouldn’t be understated,” said Malte Humpert, executive director of the Arctic Institute, a Washington policy group. “China has identified the Arctic as a strategically and geopolitically valuable region,” and “having a seat at the table, albeit only as a permanent observer, has long been an essential part of the country’s regional strategy.”
The number of new observers reflects interest in the region’s burgeoning economic opportunities as climate change alters the physical landscape. Rapidly melting ice is opening new shipping routes that will make the trip from Europe to Asia shorter and cheaper during the summer months. The softening of Arctic ice could also bring within reach the 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas reserves and 13 percent of its undiscovered oil that lie under the Arctic Ocean floor, according to the U.S. Geological Survey estimates.
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