The independent resource on global security

China's Arctic Aspirations

Publisher: SIPRI
ISBN 978-91-85114-73-3
November, 2012

China wants to be part of the Arctic order and, as a rising power, emphasizes the global implications of the Arctic’s melting ice. Although several non-Chinese observers have described China’s actions in the Arctic as 'more assertive', and the Chinese Government has taken steps to protect what it perceives as its key interests in the region, China’s Arctic policies are still in a nascent stage of formulation.

This Policy Paper represents the first comprehensive mapping of the agencies and individuals involved in the formulation of Arctic policies and an assessment of the motives underlying China’s Arctic activities. The authors show that, while China recognizes that it is an 'Arctic outsider'—without sovereign rights in the Arctic—it nevertheless sees numerous economic opportunities opening up in there. It consequently seeks to influence discussions and decisions on how the Arctic should be governed.


1. Introduction

2. China's Arctic actors

3. Motives behind China’s Arctic activities

4. The Arctic in China's bigger picture

5. Conclusions