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Jan 01 0001
Cooperation and Development:The Way of China forward to Arctic
By XU Shijie
China is a country in the northern hemisphere; it is close to the Arctic and has a lot of links with the Arctic region. The Arctic climate has important impacts on China’s climate change. The cold wind mainly comes from Siberia, and meets with the warm current from the Pacific Ocean. This leads to different levels of precipitation which has great influence on the agricultural production in China, especially in northern part. The abnormal Arctic sea ice oscillation could even cause extreme weather in China. One example is the freezing rain in 2008 which was closely linked to the sea ice change of the Arctic Ocean, and caused a lot of damage to the economy.
The Arctic is important to the world economy and the world heritage. There is a wealth of resources in the Arctic, especially oil and gas. If explored, it should stimulate the development of the world economy and help overcome the energy bottleneck. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is an emerging sea route, the shortest way linking Europe, North America and Northeast Asia, and will come to play an important role in the world trade in the near future. Furthermore, the eight Arctic countries together are one of the world’s largest markets for high-technology, encouraging a new Arctic economic region to appear. In addition, the Arctic nature and culture, especially aboriginal culture, has a strong appeal to the world community.
Being a country neighboring the Arctic, China should pay attention to changes in the Arctic. China’s basic stands in Arctic affairs are clear; respecting the Arctic countries’ sovereignty and jurisdiction, participating in Arctic cooperation, promoting mutual development and safeguarding the peaceful use of the Arctic.
The Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAA), located in Beijing, is a governmental agency which is subordinated to the State Oceanic Administration. Its main responsibility is to organize and coordinate the Chinese Polar Research Programme, the polar expeditions. The Chinese Advisory Committee for Polar Research is composed of experts and officials from 17 ministries and bureaus. It provides guidance and consultancy to the Chinese Polar Research Programme. The Polar Research Institute of China (PRIC), located in Shanghai, undertakes polar scientific research and logistic support. Besides, other Chinese research institutes and universities also join the Chinese Polar Research Programme’s expeditions.
CAA started conducting Arctic scientific research in 1996. In 2004, the first Chinese Arctic station “Yellow River Station” was established at Svalbard. From 1999 to 2012, CAA had carried out five Arctic Ocean surveys. The RV Xuelong’s first to fourth Arctic marine expedition routes concentrated mainly on the Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea and the Canadian Basin. On the Fifth Arctic expedition, RV Xuelong crossed the Northeastern Passage through the Chukchi Sea, the East Siberian Sea, the Laptev Sea, the Kara Sea and the Barents Sea, arriving in the Atlantic Ocean. Xuelong also visited Iceland. This was the first time a Chinese vessel went through the Northeastern Passage, and it helped obtaining practical understanding of the NSR. This voyage stimulated the interests of some Chinese shipping companies and lead COSCO to make its first commercial shipping trial in 2013.
The fifth Chinese Arctic expedition and research work was also open to the international science community, and performed in close cooperation with scientists from Russia, the United States , the European Union, France, Japan, Korea, Finland, Canada, Iceland, Norway and other countries. The research purposes were to understand: a. the role of the Arctic in global climate change, and its impact on China; b. the water mass exchange between the Arctic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, and its impact on the North Pacific Ocean circulation variation; c. the Arctic Ocean ecology system and biological resources. The Chinese Arctic marine survey was multidisciplinary, including marine chemistry, biology, geology, meteorological observation, sea ice studies, atmospheric studies, and others. The scientific projects at the Yellow River Station are mainly concerning environmental monitoring, and studies of climate change, glaciers, bio-ecology, geology and upper atmospheric physics.
Recognizing that Arctic activities concerned more areas than natural science research and to get better understanding of Arctic affairs, the CAA began from 2007 to organize Arctic social science projects, such as studies on policies, international and domestic law, Arctic indigenous people and so on.
Now, the Arctic is receiving more and more attention from the Chinese public. The beautiful Arctic scenery and wildlife attract more Chinese tourists to come. The culture of the Arctic indigenous people is very unique. Besides, some Chinese people experience adventures in the Arctic. One example from 2008, where China cooperated with Norway, and the CAA organized for a group of Chinese high school students to go to Svalbard at the time when the first sunlight appears after months of darkness.
International cooperation plays an important role in the Arctic. China joined the Arctic Science Committee (IAC) in 1996 and became a permanent observer of the Arctic Council in 2013. In addition, China has actively participated in multilateral forums and international scientific projects on different aspects of the Arctic, such as 2007/2008 International Polar Year (IPY), and looked for the opportunity to develop bilateral cooperation with Arctic countries.
In the future, by the means of multilateral or bilateral cooperation, the CAA will continue to make its own scientific contribution to the Arctic. The research work will cover Arctic academic research, Arctic climate change studies, Arctic environmental monitoring and social science studies. The NSR is a prospect for shipping companies, and the CAA will encourage studies on Arctic sea ice forecasting for the purpose of Arctic shipping passage. Hopefully, the research work will help more Chinese people to understand the Arctic and participate in sustainable development of the Arctic.

Source of documents:Global Review

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