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‘China a serious player in Arctic Council now’
May 19, 2013, 2:57 pm

Last year saw a record melting of summer sea ice in the Arctic region [Xinhua Images]

Last year saw a record melting of summer sea ice in the Arctic region [Xinhua Images]

China will act as a serious player and peaceful power as the new observer at the Arctic Council, Chinese Ambassador to Finland Huang Xing has said.

China expects to “get benefits out of the developments in research, economic exploitation as well as transport, ” Xing said.

Last year saw a record melting of summer sea ice in the Arctic which has led to a major push by oil and mining companies to drill in Arctic waters, and by Asian countries hoping to cut shipping routes.

“Especially in the transport sector,” he said, “I think in the future it will save time and energy which is very significant for the marine transport between Asia and Europe,” Xing has said in an interview to state media in Helsinki.

He stressed that China will be a very serious member, ”act in a positive way” and will contribute to the peaceful and sustainable development of the Arctic region.

China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore were granted new observer status status at the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council convened in Kiruna, the northernmost city of Sweden.

The new participants, most of whom are Asian countries, do not have voting rights, but are allowed to raise proposals and participate in discussions.

“An observer has limited rights, but anyhow, we would very much like to participate in the discussion in the political arena, and also in scientific research, as well as in the economic field,” Xing said.

At present, only the eight countries of the Arctic Council have a say in setting policy in the region – America, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Iceland.

Xing admitted it is still uncertain when the sea ice might disappear seasonally, providing easy passage for shipments. “It is very difficult to get that conclusion but anyway the tendency is that some ice has already melted away.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said earlier that China recognizes the Arctic countries’ sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Arctic area, as well as their leading role in the Arctic Council.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies