Reassessing China’s Growing Presence in the Arctic

A World-System perspective


  • Xiaowen Zheng Beijing Normal University


This paper intends to provide an analytical framework to interpret China’s growing presence in the Arctic from the perspective of world-system theory. I have set up the analytical framework from the following four aspects. Firstly, China’s externalizing behavior in the Arctic region is governed by the internalized law of value of the modern world-system, i.e., the endless accumulation of capital. Secondly, China has benefited and is still benefiting from the division of labor, with Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and most recently the Arctic serving as a relatively subordinated resource periphery. Thirdly, driven by a strong upward mobility, China has leapfrogged the periphery and semi-periphery and gained a semi-core position with an upward trend towards the core, by offering a favorable external environment to the Arctic (invitation to promote). Lastly, since the world-economy is currently in a Kondratieff B-phase, China, as an emerging global core power, is logically dedicated to the relocation of productive activity and the probability of alternative profitable outlets, where the Arctic is highly compatible.

Keywords: China, Arctic, world-system theory, endless accumulation of capital, division of
labor, upward mobility, Kondratieff B-phase

Author Biography

Xiaowen Zheng, Beijing Normal University

Xiaowen Zheng is a PhD candidate at Beijing Normal University, China. E-mail: zheng@cgs.aau.d