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China is dying to “the Arctic pie”

The Arctic is the real storeroom; what only isn't present in it: coal, gold, copper, silver, diamonds, oil, and, for example, gas is the third of the world reserves in general. It is clear that many want to get the access to these riches, including those who have no relation to the Arctic.

For example, the interest to the Arctic was designated by India and South Korea. But while they only argue, their neighbor China already acts. At present China is included into the Arctic council which unites eight countries: Russia, USA, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. While China has the status of the temporary observer, however it would like shortly to change it. The ambassador of China in Norway Tan Guoqiang explained it simply: “China is interested in stable development of the region, after all the changes in an ecosystem of the Arctic directly influence the climatic conditions in China”.

In China the tactics is accepted to declare the rights in the Arctic more often with that calculation that everyone will get used to it. Besides, it is necessary for the People's Republic of China to act carefully as very few people is interested in that one of the largest states of the world got access also to the Arctic resources. Experts don't doubt that Chinese will increase the researches slowly but surely and the matter is not only about a science. For China it is essentially important to show that it is the great power and consequently should prove the status in practice, including in the Arctic.

The further logic is quite clear. Chinese will explain to the whole world that the Arctic is the general property and the polar countries shouldn't have advantage at the development of its natural resources at all. At the same time the political component is entered into discussion – say also Russia and some other countries, declaring the special interests in the Arctic, throw down a challenge to international law …

But the Chinese after all speak about all this very carefully. Recently the book of Arthur Indzhiyev “Fight for the Arctic” was released in which he explained such behavior of China: “They don't want to be cut off from the access to the Arctic, actively advancing thought that Russia, supervising an essential part of regional resources, has neither technologies, nor the capital for production of these riches. Therefore dream of creation of tripartite joint ventures for production in the Russian waters with attraction of the Chinese capital and the western technologies. Actually, the Celestial Empire, certainly, is worried only about own interests”.

And the game is really worth the candle. China recognizes that a global warming will proceed on a planet, the Arctic ices will melt. It, firstly, will make the exploitation of natural resources of the Arctic more available, and secondly, will give a new push to navigation on the Northern sea way. It is already counted up that the way by sea through the Arctic from Shanghai to Hamburg will be shorter on 6400 km. And, unlike a traditional route through the Suez Canal there is no such risk as actions of sea pirates. The well-known Somali pirates simply would freeze in the Arctic … And if seriously, one figure explains a lot of things: just because of pirates attack, the insurance of sea vessels on the southern route grew ten times.

Interests of China in the Arctic are not a secret for somebody. Not casually such authoritative establishment in the world as the Stockholm Institute of research of world problems even published the whole research. Linda Yakobson who has prepared it, entitled the work “China prepares for the Arctic, free from ice”. She also notes that “prospects of free navigation in the Arctic in summer months, thanks to what the trading ways become shorter and there will be an access to untouched energy resources, pushed the Chinese government to allocate the large funds for research of the Arctic”.

Linda Yakobson notes that China is at a great disadvantage as it isn't the subarctic state and has no rights to development of a shelf. However the researcher is sure that Chinese will watch very attentively the actions of Russia and gradually will strengthen the positions. In confirmation of the words, Linda Yakobson quotes the expert from Sea University of Dalian Li Zhengfu: “The one who will receive the control over the Arctic route, will supervise a new way of world economy”.

Yakobson analyzed how China reacts to the steps of Russia in the Arctic. She notes that reaction, as a rule, is negative. The Chinese paid special attention on that Russia decided to renew the flights of the bombers over the Arctic since August, 2007 and on that fact that the Russian flag was established at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. The expert draws a conclusion: “China and other countries of the world will appear at a great disadvantage if the claims of Russia for the underwater territory between the ridges of Lomonosov and Mendeleyev would be legalized as in this case only Russia will acquire the right to dispose of resources in this area”. Time goes quickly and the demand of Russia concerning the expansion of a shelf will be considered in the United Nations in 2014.

The Chinese consider all variants. If, for example, the rights of Russia would be confirmed, our neighbors already formulated the main problem: will Russia suddenly take too expensive for service of the ships which go by Northern sea way? However, the head of “Sovcomflot” Sergey Frank doubts that China not in words, but in practice will be capable to use Northern sea way. Making comments on this problem for the British press, Frank noticed that the ships of the People's Republic of China can't simply be in northern waters as they aren't adapted for that.

But it is necessary to begin with something?! And here China had … an ice breaker. The name is “Snow dragon”, but this biggest in the world not nuclear ice breaker was built not in China at all – it was simply bought from Ukraine in 1993. This ice breaker already visited both the Arctic, and Antarctic. For example, it delivered four research expeditions to the Arctic. During one of them, in August, 2010, the Chinese polar researchers landed on the North Pole by the helicopter.

Now in China the program of creation of ice breakers is accepted which, according to the Chinese, will be super-power. “Brothers and sister” of “Snow dragon” will be under construction on the Chinese shipyards and the first ice breaker should be floated in 2013.

The hero polar explorer appeared in China. The senior scientist of research institute of telemetering devices under the Academy of Sciences of China Liu Shaochuang reached the North Pole on foot the first of the Chinese alone. In 2002 he got to our northern settlement Khatanga from Beijing through Moscow. Especially he was surprised by the welcome of the locals: “Hospitable Russians invited me, treated with a fried venison and vodka. I was so amazed by their vodka, I even ran into catalepsy. In days of my staying, it was very lonely in the Arctic. But that time that I spent in Khatanga, was very joyful and interesting for me”.

Then the Chinese researcher was thrown on Komsomolka Island by the Russian helicopter. Exactly from here from the cape of the Arctic it, having taken the cargo in gross weight of 160 kg, went to a way to the North Pole. Speaking about the impressions, Liu Shaochuang noted then that the most dangerous were not the polar bears, but the cracks in ice. The way of the polar explorer wasn't simple – once he even had to return to Khatanga, but, eventually, from the second attempt he reached the North Pole. And Liu Shaochuang told to compatriots: “In the near future I will make the expedition to the Arctic on foot once again. I prepared the red wine for victory celebration”.

But the opening up of the Arctic is not the matter of single persons. The national service of the Arctic and Antarctic is created in the People's Republic of China. But if China has three bases in Antarctica, so only one base in the Arctic: “Yellow River” was opened in 2004. It is near Spitsbergen, and up to twenty experts constantly work at it. Since the beginning of the 90th years, the Chinese undertook more than ten scientific expeditions to the Arctic, but had no own scientific station.

Now big money is invested in this sphere. It is already declared that the People's Republic of China is going to create very first in the history constant drifting station in the Arctic Ocean. The task is to collect information on speed of currents on various depths, about change of water temperature and degree of its salinity. These data are necessary to have possibility to judge how the climate changes on a planet.

Today China hardly could create the research station without any assistance. And this help was rendered by Norway. The Chinese station is not somewhere, but in Ny- Alesund, on Svalbord's islands which are to the north of Norway.

Moreover, Norway asks that the Arctic council will give the status of the constant observer to China. The official representative of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared it at the international conference “Arctic boundaries”. And quite recently the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, acting in Beijing, told the following: “The Arctic draws growing attention of a set of the states for the ecological, economic and geopolitical reasons. In this region the number of questions of world value rises and also the advanced researches are carried out. The world powers, such as China, could make a powerful contribution in this region”.

Russia follows attentively the succession of events therefore not casually the Navy admiral Vladimir Vysotsky publicly declared that “The countries which aren't included into the Arctic council started to get into the Arctic, but very intensively position the interests in any ways. Among these countries there was also China which has concluded contracts with Norway on development of the Arctic zone. We understand the economy and infrastructure which exist now in China: it becomes the serious partner both from positive and from problem position”.

Especially the admiral noted that nobody should doubt: Russia doesn't intend to hand over “spans of the interests” in the Arctic. It is necessary to defend the positions, as it appeared much wishing to receive the piece of “the Arctic pie”.

Viewed : 2440   Commented: 5

Author: Vladimir Kuzmenkin

Publication date : 01 October 2012 17:07

Source: The world and we

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