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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Alexeeva and Lasserre
the Arctic denote regarding its long-term goals? What is the scale of China’s polar research and
collaboration? What is the official position of the Chinese government towards the Arctic? Has
Beijing elaborated any strategy related to the main Arctic issues – the exploitation of natural
resources and the development of new navigation passages? In fact, China is indeed trying to define
an Arctic policy, but does not wish to, nor does it, represent a threat to claims floated by the coastal
China’s “New” Interest for the Arctic?
The Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAA) was founded in 1981 as the Office of the
National Antarctic Expedition Committee. The official Chinese research program in the Arctic
formally began in 1989 when the Polar Research Institute of China was founded and the CAA
adopted its present name. The first Chinese academic works on the Arctic appeared as early as 1988
(Wang X., 1988) and since then the number of Chinese publications and research has grown at a very
impressive rate. The same year, the Chinese Academy of Sciences began to issue a new quarterly
journal, the
Chinese Journal of Polar Research,
in order to broadcast the findings of the Chinese
researchers related to the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
Most articles that were published in a dozen different Chinese journals between 1988 and 2008
focused on the Arctic glaciology, climatology, oceanographic science, upper atmospheric physics, as
well as on the Arctic biological and environmental studies. A quick survey on China’s largest
database search engine, Wanfang Data (
retrieved 680 articles that included the word
) in their title and that were published before 2008. Most of these articles (49% of the
total number) are related to all kinds of climatologic issues (ex: Gong and Wang, 2003; Wu et al,
2008); others are treating questions of biodiversity (23%), environment (10%), technology (10%),
linguistics and history of Arctic native nations (8%). No major Chinese scientific article ever
considered political issues in the Arctic before 2007. However, in the last five years, several
publications related to Arctic politics, legal issues and strategic interests have appeared.
In 1992 China started its first scientific five-year research program in the Arctic Ocean, which was
realized in cooperation with German universities in Kiel and Bremen. Within ten years, from a
country that had no Arctic research whatsoever, China became a country that had established, in
2004, its own research station,
Yellow River
, in the Arctic (at
on the island of
Norway) and that conducted four independent Arctic missions (1999, 2003, 2008 and 2010). For