During the last decade, there has been much speculation about whether the rise of China will represent a threat or opportunity for the international system. More recently, the debate has sped up with China's growing interest in the Arctic region. To date, China has not unveiled an Arctic strategy, but consistent with its rising global status, it is likely to take a more active role in Arctic affairs. As China's Arctic activities cannot be separated from its other national interests, this article examines them in the context of the party-state's overall foreign policy objectives. It begins with a review of China's rise to global power status and its perceived implications for international society, particularly for international Arctic politics. Following that, it explores China's foreign policy objectives and looks at how China's Arctic activities seek to promote these goals. The article concludes that China's main Arctic interests include climate change, economic development, and scientific research. In addition, as China wishes to be seen as a "responsible major power", it seeks to reassert its position in Arctic international politics without challenging the sovereign rights of the Arctic littoral states.
Sanna Kopra is a PhD student at the School of Management, University of Tampere, Finland.