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Symposium Overview: "Arctic Countries and the Arctic Future"

by Deng Beixi with contributions from SIIS

Co-organized by Shanghai Institutes of International Studies (SIIS) and Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI), supported by China-Nordic Arctic Research Center (CNARC), the International Symposium “Asian Countries and the Arctic Future” was held in Shanghai from April 24th to April 25th. Experts and scholars from Arctic countries (the United States, Russia, Norway and Finland) and non-Arctic countries (China, Japan, Korea, India and Singapore) opened a heated and in-depth discussion on the topic of 1) the Arctic governance: mission and evolution; 2) the development of the Arctic natural resources and infrastructures and Asian Interests; 3) Geopolitics of the Arctic: Perspectives of Asian and Arctic states. Officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Chinese Arctic and Antarctica Administration, as well as the Norwegian Embassy have also participated.

Prof. Oran Young from University of California, Santa Barbara, Prof. Yang Jian, Vice President of SIIS, as well as Prof. Leiv Lunde, Director of FNI, delivered key-note speeches respectively.

Prof. Oran Young believes that the profound changes in the Arctic, especially climate change and recession of sea ice, have tightened the links between the regional system and the global system in the environmental, economic and political terms. Meanwhile, the role of extra-regional powers in the Arctic governance is growing, which requires devising a governance system capable of ongoing adaptations as the Arctic continues to evolve. The existing functional governance mechanisms, the Arctic Council and the International Maritime Organization included, perform as a mosaic made up of distinct elements rather than a single and integrated governance system. The coordination and harmonization between various mechanisms plays an important in enhancing the effectiveness of the Arctic governance. Reinforcement of public-private partnership with joint efforts to supply needed infrastructures (e.g. mapping, observing systems, satellite navigation, certification and insurance system), and organization of informal venues (e.g. Arctic Frontiers, NPAC, WEF) are instructive attempts in the process of Arctic Governance. He particularly pointed out that the arms race in the Arctic, the intention of NATO to intervene in the Arctic as well as exclusive tendency of the five Arctic costal states in the Arctic policy-making will be the missteps and dead ends for the Arctic governance. Regarding how China could be engaged in the Arctic affairs, Prof. Oran Young suggests that China should adopt a proactive attitude toward the Arctic Council, but not expect too much; China should encourage business initiatives but not as elements of a political strategy; China should also treat the concerns of the Arctic’s permanent residents in a sensitive manner and contribute to the development of infrastructure treated as a public good, as well as strengthening the science/policy connections.

Group Photo for the Seminar

Prof. Yang Jian puts forward his points of view as a Chinese scholar regarding the Arctic governance and the interactions between Arctic and nonArctic countries. He points out that the economic exploitation in the Arctic region will contribute to intensify the interactions between Arctic and non-Arctic countries and how to formulate a model of virtuous interaction is the key to the current Arctic governance. The Arctic governance encounters such challenges as backwardness of the existing mechanisms and insufficiency in the supply of public goods, however, the involvement of Asian countries will contribute to achieve the overall objectives of governance. In response to the intention of extra-regional actors to participate in the Arctic governance, the Arctic states have adopted the approaches of limited introduction and discriminative arrangements, to raise the threshold of entrance. While the extra-regional actors, China included, should take full advantages of the multi-tiered structure of the Arctic governance to realize legitimately their rights and interests, at the same time undertaking correspondent responsibilities.

Professor Leiv Lunde, however, looks ahead with an outlook on the Arctic governance in 2030 and the role of the Asian countries. Based on certain indicators, namely population, geography, identity, culture, economic activities, investment, trade, science and tourism, he forecasts and analyses ten states that might play in vital role in the Arctic governance in 2030. The ten states are: Russia, Norway, China, Korea, the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany, the Great Britain. It could be seen that the role of Asian countries, especially China, Korea and Japan, in the Arctic governance, will become increasingly prominent in the future. The navigability of the Arctic waterways, the rich resources in oil and gas, minerals, fisheries and tourism, and the key role the Arctic might play in the realization of technological breakthroughs and adaptations to the climate change, are the factors that attract Asian countries to devote their efforts in the Arctic governance. He suggests that the Arctic Council shall grant the Asian countries the right to attend ministerial-level meetings.

In the session of “the Arctic Governance: Mission and Evolution”, Professor Lassi Heininen from University of Lapland, points out that under the background of globalization, on one hand, Arctic geopolitics has gone global due to environmental, economic, technological and geopolitical dynamics in the Arctic, and their global implications, for example, the indigenous people demonstrate growing consciousness of own identity, culture and (human) rights; the Arctic is more shaped by industrial civilization than many other parts of the planet; climate change and global warming brings about not only economic prospects, but other societal consequences, e.g. food security. On the other hand, the Arctic governance exerts profound influences on the world politics. The Arctic region’s geopolitical position in world politics has been strengthened in the last 20 years, due to both material points of view (e.g. significant mineral reserves for further development, shortening of sea routes, etc.) and more immaterial points of views and values (e.g. ‘laboratory’ for research on environment/climate, interplay between science and traditional knowledge, innovations in political/legal arrangements, etc.). He further illustrates that the existing nexus of rapid climate change, exploitation of off-shore hydrocarbons, importance of energy security, as well as increasing sea transportation, all lead to an ‘Arctic paradox’. The solution to such paradox requires the joint efforts by all humanity based on sustainable ecosystem management and governance.

Professor Olva Stokke from University of Oslo then expresses his points of view on Asian Stakeholders and Arctic governance. He analyses the differentiated role that Asian stakeholders could play in various Arctic issues, for example, resources exploitation, sea route governance and environmental change from the perspectives of power, legitimacy and urgency. He concludes that the salience of Asian stakeholders varies across Arctic issues. With the global financial crisis and the innovations in unconventional energy (e.g. shale gas), the Asian countries serve only as potential customers in the Arctic energy development; in the Arctic shipping governance initiated by the International Maritime Organisation, the performance of Asian countries in the working groups within IMO is hardly qualified as positive. Asian countries are more active in the adaptation to climate change, prevention of persistent organic pollutants and other Arctic environment issues, but far from being a leading position. The Arctic Council is and will be the main platform for Asian countries to be involved in the Arctic governance, however, the policy-shaping function of the Council only works in the domains where the Arctic costal states allow it to play a role. For the overly sensitive political and security issues and the exclusive jurisdiction rights of the coastal states entitled by international law, the Council could barely give a voice. Although Asian countries could only participate as observers in the work of subordinate working / expert groups and have difficulties in exerting political influences, they however, gain access to the Arctic research networks and information centres. For the Arctic Council itself, a broader engagement of Asian countries enhances its legitimacy in the global politics and renders its policies and recommendations more persuasive in the domains of Arctic shipping, climate change and environmental protection.

In the session of “the development of the Arctic Natural Resources and Infrastructures and Asian interests”, Professor Arild Moe, also deputy director of FNI, expresses his points of view on the opportunities and challenges of shipping in the Arctic for Asia. He thinks despite the fact that the cargo volumes of NSR (Northern Sea Route) transit traffic fell slightly in 2013 compared to those in 2012, the number of transits increased dramatically from 46 in 2012 to 71 in 2013. The composition of cargos includes hydrocarbon and LNGs, as well as bulks and general cargos, still however, many voyages are ballast and repositioning - an indication of lack of return cargo, which subtracts from the commercial attractiveness of shipping along NSR. In addition, the number of commercial transits is still limited and it seems that much has been driven by shipping companies availing themselves of short term interests, rather than reflecting long-term strategies for increased usage of this Arctic transport corridor.

Prof. Shou Jianmin from Shanghai Maritime University gives a presentation on the outlook of the future Arctic shipping. In his points of view, the navigation condition in the Arctic have improved in two aspects, one being that the extend of sea ice decreases dramatically in summer and the other being that the ice pack composed primarily of first-year ice, expands in winter. It is predicted that the total duration of navigation for NSR (including both ice-free and icebreaker-guided navigation) will reach 150 days or more by 2050. He further points out that as the commercial navigation conditions through NSR are relatively mature, the potential of container transportation between Asia and Europe through NSR can be substantial. According to the operation pattern of the hub-spoke, the Euro-Asian commercial navigation network with its hub-spoke harbors in Shanghai, China and Bergen, Norway respectively, will be more competitive in terms of the duration and costs of transportation than the Suez Canal passage.

Ms. Zou Leilei, associate professor from Shanghai Ocean University compares the similarities and differences in the Arctic waterways administration and legislation of Russia and Canada. She points out that as respective practical executive body for Northeast Passage and Northern Sea Route, Russia and Canada implement the Arctic waterways administration through enacting domestic laws, distinctions, however still exist. Russia pays more attention to the economic potential of the NSR, remains rather positive on its prospects of navigation and takes active initiatives to promote its development into an important world navigable channel. Taking into consideration the domestic political realities, Canada, on the contrary, emphasis on the sovereignty rights of its Northwest Passage. Due to Canada’s cautious attitude towards navigability of Northwest Passage, infrastructures related to the future navigation have been lacking. In its attempt to carry out cooperation in the Arctic shipping, China should take targeted measures based on the distinct administration approaches taken by Russia and Canada

With regards to the Arctic energy cooperation, Prof. Zha Daojiong from Peking University introduces China’s energy demands and the involvement of foreign capitals in China’s natural gases projects. He further points out that the shale gas and other unconventional energies will cast a significant impact on the evolution of global energy supply. However, the case of “energy independence” of the United States is not replicable in China and China’s future economic development will heavily depend on long-term energy imports. As a result, it is important to China’s energy security the Sino-Russian cooperation on Yamal LNG project to secure Russia’s energy supply to China.

Ms Iselin Stensdal Research fellow from FNI discusses the potential interests of Asian countries in the development of Arctic mining. She points out that as world’s important economies China, Korea and Japan are also the world's largest importers of mineral resources. Rich mineral resources of gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, nickel, lead, zinc in the Arctic regions are potentially attractive to the Asian countries for future mineral development investment.

In the session of “Geopolitics of the Arctic: Perspectives of Asian and Arctic states”, scholars discuss how Asian countries implements their respective Arctic policies and explore the possibility of collaborative engagement of Asian countries in the Arctic affairs. Dr. Dmitiry Tulupov from St. Petersburg State University introduces the current Arctic cooperation between Russia and Asian countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior government officials have expressed their full expectations in various political discourses on the economic exploitation in the Russian Arctic region and the development of NSR, as well as the desire for Arctic cooperation with Asian countries. The Russian Foreign Policy Doctrine issued on February 2013 states that “it is necessary to take measures for strengthening the Russian Federation’s status as a key transit route that provides trade and economic ties between Europe and Asia-Pacific region”, which provides a valuable opportunity for Asian countries to strengthen cooperation with Russian in the development of NSR. Tulupov points out three basis conditions for China’s effective involvement in the Arctic shipping development: 1) favorable demand-supply in the Europe-Asia trade, 2) reliable ice-breaker support and 3) optimal rate of fee for ice-pilotage and icebreaking support. Sino-Russian cooperation in Arctic energy will be beneficial to the strategic security cooperation between the two countries. As for Russia-Asian Arctic cooperation, he suggests that the major topic of NSR, Hydrocarbons & metals extraction (both offshore and onshore) and joint scientific research should on top of the agenda.

Mr. Egill Nielsson, visiting scholar from Polar Research Institute of China, summarizes the process of China-Icelandic Arctic cooperation. Since 2011, especially the signature of Framework Agreement on Arctic Cooperation on occasion of China’s Premier’s visit to Iceland in 2012 and the Free Trade Agreement in 2013, facilities an intensified and deepened Arctic cooperation between the two countries in terms of commerce, scientific research, technology and policies. Such cooperative relation serves as a model as the cooperation between an Arctic and a non-Arctic state.

Mr. Deng Beixi, assistant professor from the Polar Research Institute of China then introduce the basis structure and operational mechanism of the newly established China-Nordic Arctic Research Center (CNARC), established in Shanghai in December 2013 and composed of 11 member institutes from China and five Nordic states. As a new platform for Arctic cooperation, CNARC is committed to increasing awareness, understanding and knowledge of the Arctic and its global impacts, promoting cooperation for sustainable development of the Nordic Arctic and coherent development of China in a global context and facilitating cooperation of Arctic social science studies on the topic of Arctic climate change and its impacts, Arctic resources, shipping and economic cooperation, as well as Arctic policy-making and legislation.

With regards to the questions on China’s Arctic policies, Mr. Wang Chen, Deputy-director of Division, Department of Treaties and Laws offers response and clarification. He states, although China has not issued any official Arctic policy documents, however, the China’s position has been very clear (“three respects” – respect and recognition of Arctic States’ sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Arctic). The China’s pertinent authorities on the Arctic policy bear two functions: ministerial coordination on Arctic-related issues and formation of a favorable world public opinion towards China’s participation in the Arctic. Scholars from the organizer, Shanghai Institutes of International Studies (SIIS) also contribute their academic viewpoints. Dr. Zhang Pei attempts to reveal in a broad sense the multiple attitudes of Arctic states towards East Asian countries’ involvement in the Arctic based on the reading of policy paper, the examination of scholars’ articles and analysis of public opinion conducted in Arctic states. Dr. Cheng Baozhi analyses the Arctic Governance Networks among Nordic and European countries and their implications for Arctic cooperation among Asian states. Ms. Gong Keyu, associate researcher, however proposes to incorporate the existing cooperative framework in Asia, for example, ASEAN 10+3 into the Arctic cooperation mechanism.

On occasion of the closing ceremony, Prof. Yang Jian speaks highly of the conference: firstly, innovations on research methodology and theories have emerged, especially with the introduction of the new concepts of the Arctic governance and the methodologies of International Political Economy (IPE), and the new propositions of the Arctic globalization, the Arctic stakeholders and the unity of diversification; secondly, there is a preliminary anticipation of the future trend and micro-development of the Arctic governance; thirdly, the representatives present with diverse nationalities and backgrounds indicate an effective communication and positive interactions between Asian countries and Arctic countries; fourthly, regional, trans-regional and sub-regional cooperative frameworks have grown ever important in the Arctic governance and such new governance structures as North Pacific Arctic Conference (NPAC), China-Nordic Arctic Research Center (CNARC), Pacific Arctic Group (PAG) and Asian Forum of Polar Science(AFoPS) provide platforms for the effective engagement of Asian countries in the Arctic affairs; fifth, specific areas and issues of the Arctic governance have been discussed in depth, for example, Arctic shipping management, energy exploitation and cooperation, Arctic mining, scientific research, biological resources management as well as outer continental shelves; lastly, a number of young Chinese and Nordic scholars have showed their talents and the power of the “new generation” in the Arctic research is growing.


Speech of Mr. Nicolai Wammer Minister of Defenses of Denmark

15th January, 2014 at Polar Research Institute of China

Nicolai Wammen Minister of Defense of Denmark

First of all, Director Yang and Deputy-Director Li, thank you for your very warm welcome to me and my delegation. Ambassador Peterson conducts already frequent visits and is also a friend of your Institute. The whole delegation is honored to have such an opportunity to know what you are working on and what you see as main challenges ahead of us.

The Arctic is a region which is gaining increased international attention; one of the key reasons is the effects of climate change, which can bring about negative effects, as you have mentioned, if all sea ice is to melt, the coastline of China will move inwards by 400 kilometers. This would be a catastrophe indeed and would affect the rest of world dramatically. Therefore, the Danish policy is very clear: we want to do anything possible to address the issue of climate change in the way where new green technologies can be applied, and at the same to make it less likely that we will see climate change of a magnitude that would be danger for all of us. We hope that all the countries in the planet would join this endeavor because we are all going to be affected.

Group photo of visit of Danish delegation Ministry of Defense

But climate change brings about a lot of positive influences. We will see increased activities in the Arctic region in the next years to come, and therefore a lot of political interests in the Arctic. The Arctic Council is attractive to new observers and I welcome that China became a permanent observer last year. One of the main themes will be how we can secure for the future with increased commerce and tourism traffic in the region, as well as increased exploitation of mineral and oil and fishing which should be done in a sustainable way.

From Danish perspective we guarantee that we will not construct military bases in the Arctic and do not want the race for the North Pole islands nor arms race in the Arctic. We see increased cooperation between countries in the region, not only in civilian areas, but also when it comes to military coast guards. Increased activities such as cruise liners and commercial transports in the Arctic region also entail a number of potential risks. We also deal with the environment, which is not only extremely rough and unpredictable, but also very fragile. A recent very difficult evacuation in the Antarctica (the stuck Snow Dragon) proves how difficult such operations can be. What we can imagine is if a cruise ship meets a wind storm at the Greenland coastline or hits an iceberg, that could cause major damages to the ship and there is a need for evacuation of the passengers and crew. Therefore we must better protect the sailing routes, work closer and coordinate our efforts with partners and friends because when you look into the Arctic, no country, not even the biggest country can solve this alone. It will take partnership and friendship.

In the political atmosphere of cooperation, it is also important to say that there are still a number of unresolved territorial disputes in the Arctic region. But Denmark, along with other countries has ensured each other that this is to be resolved under the international laws. The Arctic is not a battle field; dispute should be resolved not through conflicts but negotiations, if necessarily according to UNCLOS. The Danish political agreement comprises the development of Danish armed forces in the Arctic next year; this does not mean that we seek to militarize Greenland or Faroe Islands and the waters surrounding these far northern islands of our kingdom. But we need to able to have much better situational knowledge of our territory and waters and to develop our capabilities in dealing with search and rescue, and environmental issues in the region. Therefore we just initiated a series of studies which will investigate the expected challenges and related equipment to increase the capabilities to meet future needs. An important part of the study is to look at the possibility of buying equipment through bilateral cooperation. This study will be finished by the end of this year. In recent years we have equipped the armed forces involved in the Arctic tasks with maritime helicopters and new vessels.

I took part in a conference in Halifax in Canada last year, where the Arctic was also listed high on agenda. The U.S. secretary of Defense, Mr. Chuck Hagel used his main address to make clear the position of the United States. He made clear that there is broad support for multilateral cooperation in the Arctic rather than militarization of the region. And it is very important to find new ways for preventing accidents and incidents in the region, for example the training on sailing on difficult and dangerous areas.

All in all, this is not a matter which is only of interest for Denmark, also for the countries situated in the Arctic area; this is an area where we all have vast interest. We can all benefit from new possibilities and opportunities, and we must also seek close cooperation with one another because if we choose a wrong solution to the climate change and man-made incidents then there will be a high price to pay.

Therefore I welcome the scientific work being done by institutes like you to make sure we acquire deep knowledge of the problems, challenges and opportunities, as well as insights for politicians, decision-makers and citizens to act. Again, thank you very much for meeting my delegation today, and all the best and luck for your tasks and also your scientific work!

Program Introduction CNARC Fellowship Program for Year 2014


Program Introduction CNARC Fellowship Program for Year 2014

Outline of Fellowship

The fellowship program offers opportunities for excellent researchers from both China and Nordic states, under the collaborative framework of the China-Nordic Arctic Research Center (CNARC), to conduct joint research within leading research organizations in Arctic studies. The program allows researchers to advance their own research projects while contributing to an increased awareness, understanding and knowledge of the Arctic and its impacts for both China and the Nordic states.

Categories of Fellowship

Category 1: Fellowship with a designated research project by CNARC

  • Designated research project for Year 2014:
    • Role of non-Arctic states in Arctic affairs
    • From knowledge to actions: Impacts of knowledge and expertise on Arctic policy
  • Duration: 3 months
  • Requirements:
    • An academic research report (8,000 - 10,000 words) submitted at the end of fellowship and accessible within CNARC's Member Institutes. Fellows are encouraged to pursue peer-reviewed publications based on research findings with acknowledgement of CNARC's sponsorship;
    • A research summary contributed to the CNARC Newsletter, which is circulated within CNARC's member institutes and accessible to public;
    • Initiatives of academic exchange among CNARC member institutes (e.g. lectures, presentations on research projects, workshops, etc);

Category 2: Fellowship with an on-going relevant research project consistent with CNARC's research priorities

  • CNARC's research priorities:
    • Arctic climate change and its impacts
    • Arctic resources, shipping and economic cooperation
    • Arctic policy-making and legislation
  • Duration: 1 month
  • Requirements:
    • An academic research report (3,000 - 5,000 words) submitted at the end of fellowship and accessible within CNARC's Member Institutes. Fellows are encouraged to pursue peer-reviewed publications based on research findings with acknowledgement of CNARC's sponsorship;
    • Initiatives of academic exchanges among CNARC member institutes (e.g. lectures, presentations on research projects, workshops, etc.)
    • Such research projects shall also have other sources of funding than from CNARC.

Number of Fellowship Awarded

 For Year 2014, the fellowships shall be granted to:

  • 1 Nordic candidate for fellowship Category 1
  • 1 Nordic candidate for fellowship Category 2
  • 1 Chinese candidate for fellowship Category 1

Successful candidates shall start the fellowship during the following period: July 1st 2014 - Nov. 30th 2014, and finish the fellowship before Dec. 31th 2014.

Terms of Award

See PDF document

Application procedure for the program

  • Candidate Eligibility - Candidate for the Fellowship shall:
    • Be based at or employed by member institutes of CNARC; or be a citizen from and employed by accredited relevant research institutes in China and the Nordic states;
    • Have more than two-year research experience relevant to the Arctic research.
  • Materials to be submitted
    • Application form to be filled and signed by candidate
    • A letter of recommendation from any member institute of CNARC
    • A notice of acceptance from a host institute (which should be a member institute of CNARC or a relevant organization nominated by a member institute within its given country)
  • Candidate shall submit the application and related documents by email to the Secretariat of CNARC at least 45 days before the estimated date to start the fellowship. Contact Info: Mr. Deng Beixi, CNARC Executive Secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / +8621-3393-5813 , Mr. Egill Thor Nielsson, CNARC Executive Secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / +86-13162417903, Add: No 451 Jinqaio Rd, Shanghai 200136, P.R. China

Selection Process and Notification

  • Selection of applicants for Year 2014 shall start in May, with results notified in June. The selection is conducted by a fellowship sub-committee established within CNARC and made up of frontline Arctic experts from China and Nordic states. The selection is carried out through a document review in the first stage and a panel review in the second.
    • Document reviews for each application are conducted individually by members of CNARC's fellowship sub-committee.
      In the document review, a graduated scoring system is used on a scale 1 to 5, with 5(superlative), 4(excellent), 3(good), 2(fair) and 1(poor).
      Marks are made on a comprehensive basis, taking into account research achievements, the research plan, estimated research capacities and feasibility of the research. The average score in the document review is used as the primary screening criterion in the panel review
    • Based on the document review scores, applications are referred for panel review at the Assembly of member institutes of CNARC for final approval.
  • Notification of the selection results will be made in writing through the Secretariat of CNARC. Acceptance documents will be sent to the successful candidates. The names of the awardees, host institutes as well as their research themes are subject to public disclosure on CNARC's website. Unsuccessful candidates are not directly notified of their selection results.