Arctic Yearbook 2012
Alexeeva and Lasserre
In April 2009, Japan applied for the observer status with the Arctic Council, a high-level
circumpolar intergovernmental forum that discusses and addresses Arctic related issues, and
expressed a very keen interest in environmental programs, and transportation or passage
through the Arctic area, and development of resources in the Arctic Circle, cf. Weese, B.
(2010, September 3). Japan latest non-Arctic country to claim stake in North Pole.
Quoting Borgerson, S., p. 64: “even China operates one icebreaker, despite its lack of Arctic
waters”. This oddity, or so are we invited to think, is a hint that China might nurture
malevolent intentions. However, many other countries with no Arctic or Antarctic waters
deploy one or more icebreakers or ice-capable research ships: Australia, France, Germany,
Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden… The web abounds with sites displaying the
common-sense-based idea that “China” (probably meaning the Chinese government) must be
interested in Arctic routes since they will be shorter ways to reach European markets”.
is China’s first database, created in the 1950s by the Institute of Scientific &
Technological Information of China (ISTIC). It originally served the purpose of digitalizing
information about companies and their products. It was later transformed into a vast electronic
database of multidisciplinary information, and provides access to many collections of
periodicals, thesis’, and other types of archives. See www.wanfangdata.com.cn (retrieved on
For more information on China’s Antarctic activities and strategies, see Brady, A.-M. (2010),
China’s Rise in Antarctica?,
. 50(4), 759-785; Zou, K. (1993). China's Antarctic
policy and the Antarctic Treaty system,
Ocean Development & International Law
. 24(3), 237-255.
Some mass-media publications are even suggesting that China could use its Antarctic bases “to
improve satellite communications to military forces that increasingly depend on space-based
infrastructure” and that the Antarctic has therefore an important military significance, cf.
(2012, January 18). Antarctic Treaty is cold comfort. Retrieved 9.22.12, from
China’s own extensive claims in the South China Sea are founded on this same concept.
For more information, see Alexeeva O., Lasserre F. (2012). The Snow Dragon: China’s
Strategies in the Arctic.
, 3, 31-38.
As Russia did when it considered granting Iceland a €4 billion loan in October 2008, a loan
later reduced to $500 million and finally rejected by Moscow in October 2009 when it became
apparent Iceland had struck a deal with Scandinavian countries and the IMF. In January 2012,
China pledged to support Iceland's financial stability and economic growth.
(2012, January 17). Retrieved (4.18.12) from, http://english.gov.cn/2012-
China already produces about 90% of rare earth metals.
Though this plan never came to be realized, certain journalists have presented it as a Chinese
government attempt to “build a strategic stronghold” in the Arctic, cf.
Zhang, Y. Ren, Q.
(2012). China defends Arctic research,