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Arctic Circle Assembly kicks off in Reykjavik

Reporter: Zhang He 丨 CCTV.com

10-09-2016 03:53 BJT

In the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, the Arctic Circle Assembly has attracted more than 2,000 participants worldwide. And at the largest international gathering on Arctic issues, China's commitment and contribution to Arctic affairs are widely recognized.

From ice melting to the impact of climate change, the Arctic is important to us all. As a “near Arctic country”, China is directly affected by the change in the Arctic. It is natural for a non-Arctic state to start paying more attention to the region.

"The change in the Arctic has huge implications for China, it is also having a significant impact on the climate system in the world, so the Arctic is very important to China. In recent years, the Arctic is undertaking some tremendous changes, including the melting of Arctic ice, new sea routes, mineral exploration in the Arctic region and other economic activities. It provides new opportunities for the world, for Asia and for China. So the Arctic affairs are crucial to us," Gao Feng, Chinese Foreign Ministry's special envoy for climate change negotiations, said.

China’s contribution to the Arctic has been widely acknowledged. So far, the country built a scientific research station in Arctic region and sent icebreaker to the polar expedition seven times. Chinese shipping giant COSCO also send its cargo ships through the Arctic Ocean, as the northern sea route becomes increasingly ice-free.

"People have been looking for shorter sea routes for probably 500 years, and now we are to the point that the sea route across the arctic is being real, viable and available. I am seeing China invested ships and doing more research and cooperating with Russia, and I think Singapore is very interested because potentially they could be bypassed in terms of having a strategic location for shipping containers. Or maybe sometimes Iceland becomes the new Singapore. So for me, it makes perfect sense that they would be interested because it all goes back to economy and prosperity and desire for shorter sea routes. So it makes perfect sense," US special representative for The Arctic Admiral Robert Rapp said.

The land in the Arctic Circle is divided among eight countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and United States. In recent years, the Arctic has become the scene of numerous initiatives involving international cooperation.

"Because of the melting ice, because of the climate change, how much of the Arctic affair now is regional verses international. Certainly the eight Arctic states acknowledge sovereignty, and acknowledge policy priority. But the number of states that have been affected by climate change from the Arctic, including China. The fact that many states are developing Arctic agenda, states are outside the Arctic, such as Germany, France, the UK, China, Japan. This is pushing the question what point do you see more internationalized Arctic space," Marc Lanteigne, senior research fellow with Norwegian Institute of Int'l Affairs, said.

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