Defining the Chinese Threat in the Arctic

Editor’s Note: The Chinese Threat in the Arctic will be included in the CRE proposed proactive actions to address existential threats which could be undertaken by OIRA working through the Arctic Council.

China’s Arctic engagement has increased considerably during the past decade, which has not only offered plentiful economic opportunities but also created new risks and concerns among the eight Arctic states, non-state actors, and peoples. To increase understanding of dimensions of Beijing’s Arctic activities, The Arctic Institute’s new China series probes into China’s evolving Arctic interests, policies, and strategies, and analyses their ramifications for the region (and beyond).

The Arctic is emerging as a new domain for the strategic rivalry between the United States and China. As China expands its engagement in the Arctic, the implications of its presence and activities are an increasingly debated topic in the  United States, among the Arctic states, and globally. China has claimed benevolent intentions in peace, development, and improving Arctic governance. However, given the opaqueness of China’s decision-making and capability development, many American policymakers and observers, if not most, remain skeptical or even hostile toward China’s potential  in the Arctic. A solid strategy on China in the Arctic should begin with a well-defined and well-articulated concrete threat perception by Washington.

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