China Gains Formal Arctic Council Recognition

Xinhua China Net
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

At the recent 8th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council, China and another 5 states were granted observer status in the organization.

Founded in 1996, the group now has eight member states in the Arctic region, including Russia, the United States, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.

China first applied for observer status in the organization in 2006, and since 2007, it has been acting as an ad hoc observer.

Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International Studies, noted that although it has no voting power, China can cast its influence through bilateral means and increase the transparency and equality of issues concerning the Arctic region.

The Arctic region is becoming strategically important as its melting ice layer is making an Arctic route connecting Europe, East Asia and North America a possibility.

The potential Arctic route could shave 4,000 kilometers off the route from China to Iceland, compared to the traditional route that runs through the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, Indian Ocean, Malacca Strait and the South China Sea.

China's activities in the Arctic region have long been focused on scientific research. As a country close to the region, China's climate, environment, agricultural production and sustainable development have been deeply influenced by the environment in the Arctic region.

Source: Xinhau China Net

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