Arctic interests with Asian characteristics

Daily Parse | Everyone talks about Asian countries’ interests in the Arctic. During a meeting today, they might say something about it themselves

The writing is on the screen (Photo: Marc Lanteigne)

Kevin McGwin

As the leaders of the world’s second, third and 14th largest economies prepared to meet today in Tokyo for the next instalment of their irregular, but increasingly frequent, series of high-level meetings, most observers expected that it would be tensions on the Korean peninsula that would take up most of their time.

That being the case, it came as a pleasant surprise for those hoping that the meeting might reveal a little more about the Arctic intentions of China, Japan and South Korea when Kong Xuanyou, China’s vice-foreign minister, last week told Reuters, a news agency, that “there will be no off-limits areas” during either the three-way talks or during a concurrent three-day tête-à-tête between Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, and Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier.

There is precedent for the three countries to use their meetings to to discuss topics related to the Arctic. Past meetings have been used to discuss things like research and to co-ordinate their positions towards fishing in the central part of the Arctic Ocean.

They also have similar, emerging interests in Arctic shipping, as well as the success of Russia’s natural gas plants on the Yamal peninsula.

As observers to the Arctic Council, all three countries will be well informed about the issues facing the region. Today’s meeting may result in the Arctic being better informed about they see the region’s issues.



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