Lau Øfjord Blaxekær, Marc Lanteigne & Mingming Shi

In June 2017, China’s National Development and Reform Commission officially announced that the Arctic Ocean would be added to the list of “blue economic corridors” comprising a major part of China’s emerging “Belt and Road” trade and infrastructure initiatives. In January 2018, this policy was further codified in China’s first governmental White Paper on the Arctic. In May 2017, The Nordic Council of Ministers and China formally agreed to strengthen collaboration between China and the Nordic region on five key areas. At the same time, the West Nordic Region (Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and coastal Norway) is increasingly being framed as a distinct part of the Nordic region with its Arctic location, maritime and blue bio-economy focus, yet these countries have no joint Arctic strategy or approach to the emerging Polar Silk Road. On the one hand, China’s enhanced Arctic engagement and strategic collaboration with the Nordic region, which includes the Arctic, maritime economy, and bio-economy, seem very promising for West Nordic development, on the other hand, geo-political unease about Chinese investments in the Arctic raise questions about what happens when the large-scale geopolitics meet the micro-scale geopolitics of the West Nordic Region. There is a significant gap in both the academic and policy literature on these matters, and as such, this article targets both academia and practitioners seeking to better understand and act according to developments in this region. Theoretically, we frame the article within the English School in International Relations.

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Vasilii Erokhin, Gao Tianming & Zhang Xiuhua

During recent years, growing exploration of natural resources and development of transport routes have reemerged in the Arctic as a scene for political and economic collaboration between Nordic and non-regional states. Being a non-Arctic country, China nevertheless has played an active role in the elaboration of international regulations and the establishment of governance mechanisms in the Arctic. The country has recently released a White Paper on the Arctic Policy and thus prioritized scientific research, underscored the importance of environmental protection, rational utilization, law-based governance, and international cooperation, and committed itself to maintaining a peaceful, secure and stable Arctic order. Diversified transportation routes and economic corridors are of paramount importance to such global trading nations as China. However, an extension of the economic corridors to the Arctic is viable only in the case of development of satellite trade, production, and research opportunities along the potential transport routes. In this study, the authors discuss the critical points in the implementation of China’s paradigm of collaboration and connectivity in the Arctic, as well as focus on the promotion of bilateral win-to-win investment and trade projects with the countries along the potential Arctic Blue Economic Corridor (ABEC). The authors conclude that the ABEC may be efficiently incorporated into China’s Belt and Road network, but emphasize that specific technological and economic challenges have to be considered and met before a sustainable connectivity between the markets of Asia and Europe is established in the Arctic.

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Derek Moscato

China’s issuance of its 2018 Arctic Policy white paper, calling for a “Polar Silk Road,” provides a unique lens into how narratives about China are fostered in global news outlets. The white paper, garnering headlines from international media outlets, provided the kind of foreign policy milestone that allowed journalists to develop a narrative about the country’s interest and actions in the polar sphere. Drawing from media framing theory, this study seeks to establish how three prominent media outlets from North America, Europe, and Asia covered China’s high-profile Arctic publication. Using news stories and a qualitative analysis, this paper’s analysis offers a glimpse into the dynamic interplay of global media and policy at a time when China’s interests converge with the Arctic’s increasingly prominent place in international affairs. China’s self-identification as a “Near-Arctic State” has created an inevitable focal point for the press and subsequent dialogue highlighting the convergence of Chinese and Arctic affairs.

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