Six institutes from Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden were present in Shanghai this week for the official inauguration of the new center. Climate change, Arctic economic development and shipping are key topics for the joint research between the Nordic institutions and the Chinese member institutes.
“With academic exchange and common research platform, the new center is dedicated to promote the Arctic and its impact on global awareness, promotion of sustainable development in a global sense,” reads the promo-note posted on the portal of Polar Research Institute of China.
Potential economic benefits of cross-Arctic shipping between China and Europe are one major interest Beijing sees as the Arctic ice-cap melts away. Climate change research is another. A Chinese research station is already established in Ny-Ålesund on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Since 1985, Beijing initiated five Arctic and 28 Antarctic expeditions. Most known in the Barents Region is last year’s expedition through the Barents Sea and upon return from Iceland straight cross the top of the Arctic with the ice-breaker Snow Dragon.
“Cooperation between the Barents Region and non-Arctic states will grow as Arctic waterways open”, China’s Ambassador to Norway told at a conference in the Norwegian town of Kirkenes on the coast to the Barents Sea earlier this year.
He added that the Barents Sea gradually is turning into an international area both in terms of geography and economy.
According to The Diplomat, China is spending around $60 million annually on polar research and plan to increase the Arctic research staff by a factor of five to 1,000. Polar Research Institute of China is located in Shanghai, also the location of the new Nordic-China Arctic Research Center.
The Nordic Member institutes at the center are Fritjof Nansen Institute (Norway), Norwegian Polar Institute, Arctic Center in Rovaniemi (Finland), Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, Icelandic Center for Research and the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies in Denmark. The Chinese member institutions are Center for Polar and Oceanic Studies at the Tongji Univeristy, Research Institute of Polar Law and Politics at the Ocean University of China, Shanghai Institutes of International Studies and the Strategic Studies Division at the Polar Research Institute of China.