Tensions likely to escalate as China seeks greater role in Arctic – fr

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Tensions likely to escalate as China seeks greater role in Arctic – fr


China’s ambitions to play a larger role in the Arctic are likely to lead to growing tensions, according to risk consultancy Control Risks.
China has developed a “prominent presence” in the region since joining the Arctic Council as an observer in 2013, Oksana Antonenko, director of Control Risks, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia”.

The Arctic Council is made up of eight Arctic states: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

It is an intergovernmental group that seeks to promote cooperation between Arctic states as well as the people of the Arctic. Their aim is to ensure that the Arctic region, faced with harsh climates and extreme weather conditions, is protected and developed in a sustainable manner.

In 2018, Beijing announced its intention to build the “Polar Silk Road” – a network of sea routes in the Arctic. It has also previously called itself a “near arctic state,” a proposal that has sparked some controversy.

Antonenko said Arctic states were concerned that China “is playing a much more unilaterally asserted role.”

The Arctic tanker Christophe de Margerie operated by Sovcomflot loading liquefied natural gas at the Yamal LNG plant in the port of Sabetta on the west coast of the Gulf of Ob, the Kara Sea.
Alexander Ryumin | TASS | Getty Images
At the same time, Russia – which faces Western sanctions targeting energy exploration in the Arctic – is receiving funding from China.
“China is providing investment, and therefore wants to play a much larger role in allowing … transport by the northern sea route,” she said ahead of the Arctic Council ministerial meeting on Thursday.

“We are likely to see, potentially, growing tensions between China and the states bordering the Arctic,” she said.

China and Russia

Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Center in Moscow said Russia had a “growing interest” in developing large energy projects in the Arctic, but lacked the necessary capital.

“He sees China as a potential investor and a potential market for hydrocarbons,” said Gabuev, senior researcher and president of the Russia program under the Asia-Pacific program.

Despite growing cooperation, Russia does not want China to become a full member of the Arctic Council, he said.

“Russia has worked with the United States and other full members to render observers virtually speechless,” he told CNBC “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday.

“They sit at the table of the Arctic Council, but they have no real power and I think it is a shared interest among all the powers of the Arctic,” he added.

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