Lau Øfjord Blaxekær, Marc Lanteigne & Mingming Shi

In June 2017, China’s National Development and Reform Commission officially announced that the Arctic Ocean would be added to the list of “blue economic corridors” comprising a major part of China’s emerging “Belt and Road” trade and infrastructure initiatives. In January 2018, this policy was further codified in China’s first governmental White Paper on the Arctic. In May 2017, The Nordic Council of Ministers and China formally agreed to strengthen collaboration between China and the Nordic region on five key areas. At the same time, the West Nordic Region (Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and coastal Norway) is increasingly being framed as a distinct part of the Nordic region with its Arctic location, maritime and blue bio-economy focus, yet these countries have no joint Arctic strategy or approach to the emerging Polar Silk Road. On the one hand, China’s enhanced Arctic engagement and strategic collaboration with the Nordic region, which includes the Arctic, maritime economy, and bio-economy, seem very promising for West Nordic development, on the other hand, geo-political unease about Chinese investments in the Arctic raise questions about what happens when the large-scale geopolitics meet the micro-scale geopolitics of the West Nordic Region. There is a significant gap in both the academic and policy literature on these matters, and as such, this article targets both academia and practitioners seeking to better understand and act according to developments in this region. Theoretically, we frame the article within the English School in International Relations.

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