The Dragon is Flying North : The Role of the People’s Republic of China in the Arctic Region

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Wasin Punthong
Wuttipong Prapantamit


The People’s Republic of China has recently been more politically and economically active in the Arctic region. The announcement of the White Paper on China’s Arctic Policy in 2018 marked a significant stage in its engagement in the region. The White Paper detailed the “Polar Silk Road” ambition and claimed that China is a “Near-Arctic state”. Taken together, these developments triggered a series of debate concerning China’s role and posture in the Arctic region. The mainstream explanation emphasized that China’s Arctic ambition is driven by the expected geoeconomic gains such as access to the region’s large hydrocarbon reserves, investment in the region and the commercial exploitation of the Arctic shipping route. These are seen as key economic tools China is using to enhance its status as a global power. However, to provide a more rounded explanation, we argue that China’s engagement in the Arctic region is not informed solely by the geoeconomic logic. In parallel, China is driven by its self-perceived status as a global power that can be legitimately involved in matters affecting the international community. In the case of the Arctic region,global warming and environmental sustainability are issues about which China is concerned.

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Punthong, W., & Prapantamit, W. (2021). The Dragon is Flying North : The Role of the People’s Republic of China in the Arctic Region. ASIA PARIDARSANA, 42(1), 67–100. Retrieved from
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