Tags: China | arctic | council | food

Quartz: China Is Targeting the Arctic for its Food Supply

By    |   Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:48 AM

China is desperate to stake an ownership claim to part of the Arctic territory because there is food there for its burgeoning population, according to an analysis by Quartz.

The Arctic Council, which oversees resource exploitation rights in the region, on Wednesday granted China long-sought observer status to its deliberations.

Quartz noted that Tang Guoqiang, China's former ambassador to Norway, one of the permanent Arctic Council members, in a recent paper said that "new fishing grounds" opened up by melting ice will transform the Arctic into "the world's largest storehouse of biological protein."

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Fishing is such a critical industry in China that the nation has taken to raiding the territorial waters of other countries, according to Quartz.

A retired Chinese navy rear admiral asserted at a governmental meeting in 2010 that the Arctic "belongs to all the people around the world as no nation has sovereignty over it," Quartz reported.

But China has recently backed down from that tone and has instead taken to referring to itself as a "near-Arctic state" and an "Arctic stakeholder."

Mia Bennett, a polar studies researcher at Cambridge University, said the Arctic Council member nations that actually abut the region have varying attitudes toward outsiders.

"Whereas the Nordic countries tend to be quite receptive toward outside interest in the Arctic, Canada and Russia — the Arctic's two largest states — are more possessive of their sovereignty in the Arctic," Bennett said.

"They worry about losing control of their shipping routes ... as non-Arctic countries like China have an interest in allowing freedom of the seas and unrestricted shipping in the region."

The New York Times reported that with the Arctic ice melting, the region's vast supplies of oil, gas and minerals have become newly accessible, along with shortened shipping routes and open water for commercial fishing, setting off global competition.

Quartz noted that the newly navigable northern passage through the Arctic, while open only part of the year, means the shipping distance from China to Europe can be reduced from 15,000 miles to 8,000 miles.

In 2010, only four laden cargo ships made the northern passage, but last year, 46 did, The Times reported. Among them was China's first ship through the Arctic, an icebreaker named "Snow Dragon."

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China is desperate to stake an ownership claim to part of the Arctic territory because there is food there for its burgeoning population, according to an analysis by Quartz.
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Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:48 AM
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