The Arctic region is identified in Chinese strategic considerations and plans as the “new strategic frontier”, where the great powers will compete in the coming years. This links up with the “Made in China 2025” strategy, which identifies key sectors or industries, such as AI, 5G, maritime and space technology, in which China wants to take the lead and set global standards, writes Camilla T. N. Sørensen, Associate Professor at the Institute for Strategy at the Royal Danish Defence College in Copenhagen.
Setting global standards is one of the main drivers behind the Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), which also includes the Arctic Sea routes. China aims to secure favourable access to the Arctic sea routes, which present an attractive alternative to the longer and strategically vulnerable routes currently in use.
China has strengthened its cooperation with Russia in the Arctic region since sanctions were imposed upon Russia by the West. Chinese banks and companies are involved in financing and constructing ports, railways, and other infrastructure that link up with the large Russian-Chinese natural gas project (LNG) on the Yamal Peninsula in particular. However, the “Polar Silk Road” is not only heading to Russia. China has also intensified its efforts in relation to Iceland and Finland.
The main impetus behind China’s enhanced diplomatic and economic activities in the region is to establish strong andcomprehensive relationships with all of the Arctic states and stakeholders, and to gradually increase China’s presenceand influence in Arctic governance institutions.
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