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China’s Arctic activities and ambitions

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New analysis reveals that China describes the Arctic as one of the world’s “new strategic frontiers” and is seeking to become a “polar great power.” Though it downplays this goal publicly, it has taken steps to exert greater influence in the region by joining its institutions, like the Arctic Council as a permanent observer, and engaging in high-level diplomacy. Likewise, it has increased its military investments, dispatched naval vessels to the Arctic, and built its first icebreaker. Chinese military texts treat the Arctic as a zone of future military competition, raising questions within NATO — which is also focused on Russia’s resurgent presence in the region — about how to ensure the Arctic remains stable and free from conflict.

On May 5, Foreign Policy at Brookings convened a panel of practitioners, academics, and policy experts to discuss a new report by Rush Doshi, Alexis Dale-Huang, and Gaoqi Zhang — “Northern expedition: China’s Arctic activities and ambitions” — which explores these themes and considers how the United States and its allies and partners should respond. Questions from the audience followed the discussion.

Viewers submitted questions via email to or on Twitter using #ArcticChina.



Heather Conley

Senior Vice President, Director of the Europe Program - Center for Strategic and International Studies

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