China is preparing for the "Battle of the Arctic"
China has not remained aloof from the increased interest of the world community to the natural resources of the Arctic. In the next five years, Beijing will organize three expeditions to the Arctic region. According to the head of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAA), Ku Tanou, the next expedition will begin in July 2012 of the year (it is already 5-th in a row).
Beijing in the 2000-ies significantly strengthened its Arctic and Antarctic research. A special department for the Arctic and Antarctic (Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration) is responsible for conducting scientific programs in the Arctic region. In 2009, the staff of the China Polar Research Center was increased (to 230 people). The base for the polar expeditions is being upgraded: the home port of the Xueloon (Snow Dragon) icebreaker in Shanghai is being rebuilt in Shanghai, data processing and polar ice storage facilities are being built.
According to the Chinese official version, Beijing plans to expand research into the polar regions of the planet: to study polar oceanography, ice formation, local biology, ecology, the effects of climate change, etc .; to monitor the weather in relation to the future interests of the state and to study the possibilities of countering global climate change.
Although it is clear that the study of Antarctica and the Arctic is associated primarily with their natural resources. The polar regions of the planet for a long time remained untouched by the storehouses of humanity, due to its harsh climate, the presence of closer and easy-to-develop resource deposits, the underdeveloped technologies for the extraction of natural resources. But now the situation is changing - old deposits are being exhausted, technologies and science have advanced far, there is a possibility of mitigating the climate in the polar regions. And the interests of energy corporations are closely linked with the geopolitical interests of countries. For example, in 2010, a staff member at Dalian Maritime University, Li Zhengfu, said: "He who gains control over the Arctic route will control the new path of the global economy." And this is not only the Northern Sea Route (the shortest route from Europe to the Asia-Pacific Region), but also huge hydrocarbon reserves, large deposits of coal, copper, nickel, lead, zinc, titanium, gold and silver, diamonds and other strategically important resources. Of great importance, against the background of the continuing growth of the population and the global food problem, are the biological resources of the Arctic seas.
China is currently the second economy of the planet, and further economic progress of the country should be supported by the natural resources of the Arctic and Antarctica. In Beijing, they are concerned about the future of their state. According to the most optimistic forecasts of Chinese scientists, already in 2013, the Northern Sea Route may be free from ice in the summer, and by the summer of 2030, the entire Arctic Ocean.
Now, the Celestial Empire possesses only one icebreaker - “Snow Dragon”, but there are plans to create an entire icebreaking fleet by 2015, which can work in the Antarctic and Arctic regions. In 2013, a new Chinese lead icebreaker, capable of walking in ice up to 4,5 meters thick, should be commissioned. According to the deputy head of the State Oceanological Administration, Chen Lianzeng, the vessel will be equipped with underwater robots and bathyscaps to conduct studies of the marine environment and resources.
Beijing has negatively assessed Russia's stepping up in the Arctic region, drawing attention to the resumption of strategic bomber flights of long-range aviation over the Arctic in 2007 and the installation of the Russian flag in the same year at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Professor Guo Peicin from China University of the Ocean, for example, stated that Arctic disputes over rights to the shelf are "a challenge that Russia and some other states are throwing to international order and international law after the end of the Cold War."
Beijing is not embarrassed by the lack of direct access to the Arctic. In the summer of 2004, the first scientific Chinese station Yellow River was opened on Svalbard. This object is 500 square meters. meters can provide a one-time stay here 20-25 people. It has 4 research laboratories, service and residential premises. Prior to 2008, the Chinese conducted 8 underwater research there using a special deep-water robot of the “Arctic” type of their own production. He is able to dive to a depth of 50 meters. Since 2008, the Chinese have begun to apply a modernized version of a deep-sea robot, which is capable of diving to a depth of up to 100 meters (it was created within the walls of the Shenyang Institute of Automation).
In addition, there were reports in the media that Beijing was determined to take advantage of the European crisis and buy part of its territory from Iceland. And the Icelandic government, and the country was in a severe financial crisis, initially looked at these plans approvingly. At the same time, China is developing cooperation with Norway, which is not averse to receiving financial assistance from Beijing in the development of the Arctic. Oslo calls for giving the People's Republic of China an expanded status of permanent observer at the Arctic Council, which will expand the doors for the Chinese to promote their projects in the polar region.
Beijing doesn’t rule out tighter cooperation with Russia, which may require assistance in developing the Arctic region, and even an alliance with China in order to counter the expansion of the Western powers.
In the long term, the Arctic region can become a real “battlefield” between the West, China, Russia, and other countries have shown interest in the region - Japan, South Korea, etc.
- Alexander Samsonov
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