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China Eyes Arctic Access & Resources

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Document pages: 15 pages

Abstract: Within the next two decades, we could witness a strategic shift in the centre of gravity on oil and geopolitics from the Middle East to the Arctic prompted by global competition for new crude oil reserves and shortened sea lanes across the Arctic. As a result, the Arctic could become another flashpoint in global power politics. Arctic states should expect future geopolitical challenges from non-Arctic states particularly China. Moreover, changes in the Arctic will further increase territorial claims and border disputes between Arctic and non-Arctic states. These issues are primarily related to free passage and resource extraction rights. Though China is not an Arctic littoral state, it argues that the Arctic belongs to all people around the world as no nation has sovereignty over it and that the region is part of the common heritage of mankind. And with one fifth of the world’s population, China must have access to Arctic natural resources and its shortened sea routes. China’s position clearly contrasts with that of the five Arctic littoral countries, namely, the United States, Norway, Denmark, Canada and Russia. This paper will argue that China and other nations of the world have entitlement to the riches of the Arctic given the fast-depleting global oil reserves and the fact that, under international law, no country currently owns the North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. This paper will also argue that Arctic issues are becoming inter-regional and that a balanced approach towards common interests should be adopted so as to pre-empt future conflict.

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