China's Developing Arctic Policies: Myths and Misconceptions
AbstractThe Arctic and Far North regions of the world have grown in importance for China's international interests in recent years, and in 2013 China became an observer state in the Arctic Council. Beijing has sought to develop an Arctic policy based on scientific research and partnerships, including in the areas of environmental studies and climate change issues, as well as development and economic issues. As the Arctic gains more international attention due to the effects of ice melting and the possibility of the region becoming a new source of resources, concerns have been raised about a scramble for riches and economic advantages. China, as a rising political and economic power, has been subject to much scrutiny, especially from the West, about its emerging agenda in the Arctic region. Although China is not an Arctic state, the concerns are based on predictions that Beijing is seeking to play a stronger and perhaps even dominant role in the Arctic, and this has led to many misconceptions about China's Arctic policy. The result has been a "clash of identities" between Chinese and Western perceptions, and in order to understand why these diverging views have appeared, it is necessary to first examine the origins of "myths" about China's regional Arctic policies, and then examine their roles, using constructivist theory, before suggesting ways for both China and the international community to address this divergence.
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