Morgunblaðið Publishes A Signed Article by Ambassador Jin Zhijian Entitled China Is An Important Force For Development In The Arctic

On October 12 2019, the famous Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið published a signed article by Ambassador Jin Zhijian entitled China Is An Important Force For Development In The Arctic. The full text is as follows:

In the past one year or so, with the new changes in the Arctic region, some people have been recklessly hyping up the so-called China's influence or even "threat" in the Arctic region, with remarks in disregard of facts and full of Cold-War mentality. What does the Arctic mean to China? What are China's principles and positions in Arctic affairs? What has China done in the Arctic region? I hope this article can provide the readers with preliminary answers.

China has long been involved in the Arctic affairs. As early as in 1925, China joined the Spitsbergen Treaty. China is an important stakeholder in Arctic affairs. Geographically, China is a "Near-Arctic State", one of the continental States that are closest to the Arctic Circle. The natural conditions of the Arctic and their changes have a direct impact on China's climate system and ecological environment, and, in turn, on its economic interests in agriculture, forestry, fishery, marine industry and other sectors. China is also closely involved in the trans-regional and global issues in the Arctic, especially in such areas as climate change, environment, scientific research, utilization of shipping routes, resource exploration and exploitation, security, and global governance. These issues are vital to the existence and development of all countries and humanity, and directly affect the interests of non-Arctic States including China. China enjoys the freedom or rights of scientific research, navigation, overflight, fishing, laying of submarine cables and pipelines, and resource exploration and exploitation in the high seas and other relevant sea areas, and certain special areas in the Arctic Ocean, as stipulated in treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Spitsbergen Treaty, and general international law. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a contracting party to a series of international treaties on Arctic affairs, a major trading nation and energy consumer in the world, China shoulders great responsibilities of Arctic-related issues.

China is an active participant, builder and contributor in Arctic affairs. The Chinese government attaches great importance to Arctic Affairs and issued the white paper on China's Arctic Policies in January 2018 for the first time, briefing the world on China's relevant policies and positions. China's policy goals on the Arctic are: to understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic, so as to safeguard the common interests of all countries and the international community in the Arctic, and promote sustainable development of the Arctic.

In order to realize the above-mentioned policy goals, China participates in Arctic affairs in accordance with the four basic principles of "respect, cooperation, win-win result and sustainability" . These policies and positions have covered the main aspects of China's participation in Arctic affairs, namely, scientific research, environmental protection, resource utilization, governance and international cooperation for peace and stability. These policies and positions embody China's Arctic policy goals and basic principles in every specific area, and will serve as the guidelines for China's participation in Arctic affairs in the future.

On the basis of the above mentioned goals, principles and positions, for years China has organized a number of scientific expeditions in the Arctic, with its research vessel Xue Long (Snow Dragon) and the Arctic Yellow River Station built in 2014 in Ny Alesund in the Spitsbergen Archipelagoas as the platform. China has gradually established a multi-discipline observation system covering the sea, ice and snow, atmosphere, biological, and geological system of the Arctic. China follows the principles of the Paris Agreement by taking emission reduction measures to protect the ecosystem of the Arctic and has continuously participates in the research, protection and international cooperation on the Arctic species.

In 2013, China became an accredited observer to the Arctic Council. China has conducted multi-level dialogue and cooperation in various fields with all the eight Arctic countries, and has been actively participating in several important international forums related to Arctic.

In addition, Chinese companies have begun to explore and accumulate experience in the Arctic. In 2013, Yong Sheng Cargo ship of China Cosco has made its first voyage through Northeast sea route of the Arctic to its destination in Europe, which was regarded as a successful trial for the construction of Polar Silk Road.

China and Iceland share common interests and similar positions in Arctic affairs. Both sides attach great importance to the adverse effects of climate change on the Arctic environment, ecology, fisheries, and local people's lives. The two countries advocate strengthened environmental protection, sustainable development and international cooperation for peace and stability in the Arctic. China and Iceland have conducted good cooperation in Arctic related fields. In 2012, the two countries signed the Framework Agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Iceland on Arctic Cooperation, which was the first inter-governmental agreement on Arctic issues between China and an Arctic State. China thanks Iceland for supporting China to become an accredited observer to the Arctic Council, and firmly supports Iceland in its job during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council. In October 2018, China-Iceland Arctic Science Observatory, co-founded by the research institutes of the two countries, was officially opened and has become a new platform for exchanges among scientists from China, Iceland and the rest of the world. China fully recognizes the important role of Iceland in Arctic affairs and has successively participated in the Arctic Circle Assembly for many years. In May 2019, China and Iceland have successfully held China Forum of the Arctic Circle in Shanghai. The strengthened cooperation between the two countries in Arctic affairs has benefited not only China and Iceland but also the whole world.

The future of the Arctic concerns the interests of the Arctic States, the wellbeing of non-Arctic States and that of the humanity as a whole. As a responsible major country, China does not want to see tensions or establish spheres of influence in the Arctic. China is willing to work together with Iceland and other relevant countries to actively address challenges related to Arctic such as climate change and environmental protection, so as to make contribution to the peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic.

Jin Zhijian Chinese Ambassador to Iceland