China does not accept that it is being held out of the increasingly important Arctic Council. The country is now stepping up it bid for permanent observer status and will soon send its Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to Sweden and Iceland, Deputy Foreign Minister Song Tao said at a press briefing this week.
-We hope to cooperate with relevant countries like Sweden and Iceland on issues of peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic, NTB and Nrk.no quote Song Tao as saying.
The Prime Minister will visit the countries in late April, the Chinese government website informs.
Sweden currently chairs the Council, which is gradually being turned into a key arena for international action in the Arctic.
China shows an increasing interest in the Arctic and is keen on strengthening its position in the Council. That, however, will require the approval of the current Council members. And that might not come easy.
From before, several of the Council members have been highly reluctant to expand the number of permanent observers. Among the bidders, which do far have been turned down, are not only China, but also several other countries, as well as the EU.
The issue is further complicated by Norway’s currently difficult relation with China. Ever since the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee granted the prize to Chinese dissident Liu Ziaobo, China has frozen relations with the country. The Norwegian response seems to be that it can not discuss the Chinese role in the Arctic Council, simply because China refuses to talk with Norway.
Russia plans to resume testing of the submarine-launched ballistic missile Bulava this summer. The country’s two newest strategic nuclear-powered submarines will start trials as soon as the ice conditions in the White Sea will allow.
MURMANSK: Ecological groups gathered on Kola Peninsula fear that Barents nature will be the looser after Oslo decided to call off the environmental minister’s Moscow meeting in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
More than 900 reindeer die of hunger on the Russian Arctic island of Kolguyev following a critical lack of available local pasturelands. The reindeer stocks in the area are too badly managed, regional authorities admit.
The current situation in Ukraine makes cross-border cooperation with the neighboring countries even more important, Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen says. At the same time, Norway has joined NATO’s condemnation of Russia’s military escalation on the Crimea peninsula.
Board member Amund Trellevik in the press network fears entry-denial of Kremlin’s controversial propaganda-journalist Dmitry Kiselyov could be retaliated by refusing Norwegian journalists access to Russia.