Bigger Chinese role sought in the Arctic

Updated: 2014-02-18 00:10

(China Daily)

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Denmark welcomes China being more involved in the Arctic, particularly in sectors such as mining, fishing and sea route development.

Danish Arctic Ambassador Erik Vilstrup Lorenzen and Greenlandic Deputy Foreign Minister Kai Holst Andersen made the remarks in an interview with China Daily in Beijing on Monday.

They are in China seeking more opportunities for cooperation, focusing on fishing products, mining and scientific research.

Andersen said they are communicating with two Chinese companies about mining cooperation in Greenland, including a copper company in Jiangxi province.

"If this cooperation can succeed, that could be an example for other Chinese companies that want to cooperate with Greenland," Andersen said.

"We are not a mining nation today. But we are definitely a mining nation of the future," said Anderson.

Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. According to the deputy foreign minister, 90 percent of Greenland's exports are seafood products.

China's huge market is very important for the island, and it hopes China can get more involved in the projects, he said. China and the kingdom can also cooperate in scientific research such as the study of ice sheets, he added.

Denmark has established several research stations as well as launched several polar expeditions to develop a better understanding and knowledge of the Arctic. China has only one research station in the Arctic, the Yellow River Station.

China and Denmark can work together to explore new sea routes, said Lorenzen, who is in charge of the country's Arctic policies and affairs.

According to scientific research, the Arctic is expected to become ice-free in coming decades as temperatures there rise twice as fast as in the rest of the world. So there is an increasing possibility of a much shorter commercial sea route and a longer navigable period in the Arctic Ocean.

"The shorter and safer sea route through the Arctic means lower costs for shipping companies and a shorter distance from China to trading partners like Europe," said Xia Yishan, a researcher on energy strategies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Cheaper shipping would also reduce the cost of the region's natural resources and help deliver them to the international market more easily," said Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher on international affairs at the China Institute of International Studies.

China doesn't have any Arctic coastline, but it is keen to cooperate with those countries that do.

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