China wants to be a polar power

The Economist published an article titled, “China wants to be a polar power”. The article reads in part as follows:

“WHEN the occupants of “Snowpanda House” in Ahtari zoo, Finland, were first allowed to play in the open air in mid-February, they bounded out and rolled in the white stuff. Xi Jinping, China’s president, had said the furry animals would act as “messengers of friendship” when he promised them to Finland during a visit last year en route to America. On the same trip Mr Xi used a refuelling stop in Alaska to butter up his hosts there, too. The American north was “a mythical, almost mystical place”, a local spokesperson quoted him as saying—a bit “like a Shangri-La”.

Mr Xi has been showing a growing interest in Arctic countries. In 2014 he revealed in a speech that China itself wanted to become a “polar great power”. Last year he met leaders from seven of the eight members of the Arctic Council, a group of northern countries that admitted China and four other Asian states as observers in 2013. In January the Chinese government published its first policy document outlining its Arctic strategy. The paper referred to China as “a near-Arctic nation” (never mind that its most northerly settlement is no closer to the Arctic than Berlin is). It also linked China’s Arctic plans with Mr Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, a scheme for building infrastructure abroad to improve links between Asia, Africa and Europe.”

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