Li Xing and Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen
China's interest in the Arctic is not usually discussed thoroughly in its context of the core interests of the Chinese Communist Party: political stability, territorial integrity and economic growth. This article discusses the role of the Arctic in light of the crucial importance of energy and transportation security for continued political stability and economic growth in China. China has a global view of pursuing this security sourcing energy globally and developing its navy to ensure strategic capabilities to protect sea-lanes against state and non-state challenges. Political stability in China is believed by the Communist Party to rest on continued economic growth. China is deeply dependent on energy imports and expected to become more dependent in the future. For its energy, China is dependent on the Persian Gulf plagued by instability and militarily dominated by the USA. Equally the Chinese economy is dependent on exports, which makes China dependent on secure and preferably short sea-lanes to major markets. The strategic competitor, the USA, controls the sea lanes and choke points as the Strait of Malacca; in the Gulf of Aden, piracy is a threat; while the Suez and Panama Canals are bottlenecks. Arctic energy and the Northern Sea Route offer some opportunities for diversification of sources and supply lines.
Li Xing is Professor and Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen is Assistant Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark.