The Return of China, Post-Cold War Russia and the Arctic: Changes on Land and at Sea
With a long view of the Arctic in international politics and economics, the paper discusses the effects of political and economic power transitions for the Arctic, focusing on Sino-Russian relations. The Arctic has in the last decade received new attention from new quarters of the world, especially Asian emerging powers, which reflects climate change and power transition/globalization. The focus here is on cases of cross-border exchanges in agriculture, raw materials, processed goods, energy and Arctic shipping. The chapter discusses how Sino-Russian relations in this region reflect general trends of Russia and China in a post-Cold War globalized international political and economic system. Russia for both domestic and international reasons struggles to find its post-Cold War position in the international political and economic system, which affects its place between the West and China. Russia’s entire northern boundary is the Arctic, with the longest Arctic coastline of all five Arctic coastal states. To in any way relegate any parts of its Arctic marine area currently defined by the Law of Sea as its EEZ to any international or Chinese authority would diminish Russia's power. China has since the late 1970s experienced phenomenal economic growth, which is the strongest single driver of political and economic power transition in the international system. This power transition also defines China's relation to the Arctic and to Russia. China now terms itself a “near Arctic” nation, has previously described the Arctic as a common heritage of mankind, and seeks to further its influence in the Arctic.