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Lackenbauer’s Book Published as China Releases Arctic Strategy

Lackenbauer’s Book Published as China Releases Arctic Strategy

Date: Monday, February 05, 2018
St. Jerome’s University History professor Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer and co-authors Adam Lajeunesse, James Manicom, and Frédéric Lasserre released their study China’s Arctic Ambitions and What They Mean for Canada last week on the same day that the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China published a white paper titled “China’s Arctic Policy.” The paper declared China a “near Arctic state” and outlined its ambition for a “Polar Silk Road.”
 
The study, which expands upon a report that Lackenbauer wrote for the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre in 2013, offers a nuanced assessment of growing Chinese interest in northern resources, shipping, science, and governance. Drawing on extensive research in government documentation, academic literature, and business and media reports, this book eschews the common assumption that China poses an acute threat to Arctic states’ polar interests. Instead, it offers a more balanced assessment of how different Chinese stakeholders approach the region and how carefully managed relationships can contribute to positive circumpolar development.
 
The release of the white paper by China came after a decade of growing Chinese interest and activity in the circumpolar Arctic. While Beijing’s growing polar capabilities have caused confusion and even alarm in some academic and political circles, its new Arctic policy does help to clarify its motivations and objectives – although uncertainties remain.
 
Lackenbauer applauds the release of China’s strategy, stating that “we now have a clear statement that we can use to measure the country’s behaviour in the Arctic.” His new book explains why he believes that much of the Canadian commentary is overly sensationalist about the so-called Chinese “threat” to circumpolar stability.
 
“China’s areas of interest are clearly demarcated: resource development, shipping, fisheries, and climate research,” Lackenbauer and co-author Adam Lajeunesse wrote in an article recently published in the weekend edition of iPolitics. “Coupled with its promise to adhere to international law and play by the rules, China has made a deliberate effort to allay concerns raised by many academic and media commentators that its designs are nefarious or revisionist…. We hope that its new policy guides its actual practice, creating the sort of “win-win” situation that it says it is after.”
 
China’s Arctic Ambitions is available in open-access format through the University of Calgary Press website. Print copies can be purchased at the University of Waterloo bookstore or online.