Decoding China’s Arctic Interest

  • Commander Noel J. Cabral III

Arctic ice is melting at an accelerating rate, giving way to not only the last great frontier that promises navigable waterways and natural resources, but international attention to emerging geopolitical and economic significance. China has not published an Arctic strategy, nor explicitly described its interests in the Arctic; however it has declared itself a “near-Arctic” state and become the most active observer in the region. This analysis examines China’s rhetoric, investment, and collaborative engagement with the Arctic states. The key findings are that China’s geostrategic interests are to advance its global legitimacy and economic development. As such, China is interested in establishing a diplomatic and economic presence in the Arctic to elevate its global status and ensure China’s access to sea lanes and resources. China’s growing engagement in the arctic could represent another significant driver to a power shift from the U.S. to China.