China to boost Arctic research

China eyes Arctic shipping as the ice-cap melts.

China will increase Arctic research and expedition efforts, the country’s top administrator on Polar research says. The undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Arctic are global resources, not regional, he claims.


- We need to increase scientific research and expeditions to better comprehend the Arctic Ocean and global climate change,” Qu Tanzhou, director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, told China Daily, adding that China lags behind some countries in this regard.

China, like other countries under the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, has the right to participate in the exploration of the Arctic, Qu noted.

- Scientific expeditions are the first step. We will take part in more activities through cooperation or independent exploration, he said.

It is estimated that the Arctic has 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, which are “global resources, not regional”, Qu pointed out.

In March 2010 a report written by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows how Beijing officials’ Arctic interests have changed and how China now recognizes the commercial and strategic opportunities that will arise from an ice-free Arctic, BarentsObserver reported.

In 2004, the country set up its first and only Arctic scientific research base, Yellow River Station, on Svalbard Island of Norway.

According to Qu Tanzhou, China plans to build a new icebreaker vessel for polar research. The country now has only one such vessel, Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, for Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. It was purchased from Ukraine in 1993. Xuelong has completed 24 research expeditions to the Antarctic and three to the Arctic.

In april this year Governor of the resources rich Russian region Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Dmitry Kobylkin, invited China to a partnership in the field of oil and gas production. - We are ready to offer Chinese partners a mutually beneficial and constructive cooperation in fields like hydrocarbons and hard minerals, the Northern Sea Route, agriculture, innovation and science, Kobylkin said.