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D. Carlton Rossi

Arctic Sovereignty



                                Chinese Icebreaker Xue Long

Robert Fife and Steven Chase


10 hours ago

August 31, 2017

A Chinese research icebreaker is making its first ever voyage through the Northwest Passage in what one expert believes to be a move to lay the foundations for China to sail cargo ships over the top of Canada.

The Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, is currently in the Davis Strait and should be entering Canadian waters in Lancaster Sound on Friday or Saturday as part of a mission to circumnavigate the Arctic, according to University of Calgary professor Rob Huebert, who has been tracking the Chinese government icebreaker via satellite imagery.




China Looks North: Carving Out a Role in the Arctic

In the meantime, Canada-China relations on Arctic issues may soon take a major step forward. The Globe and Mail recently cited the Chinese PRIC director, Yang Huigen, as saying that China wished to build a permanent research outpost in Canada’s North. Mr. Yang quickly denied making such a claim to a Chinese newspaper. However, a Northwest Territories government official later confirmed that China has indeed expressed interest in building a Chinese research outpost in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. or Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Canada tried to prevent China from entering achieving observer status because of indigenous peoples.




Brianna Wodiske, Preventing the Melting of the Arctic Council: China as a Permanent Observer and What It Means for the Council and the Environment, 36 Loy. L.A. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 305 (2014).

Available at:



B.  Treading Carefully: Arctic States Acting                             Any Differently Than China in the South China Sea?

China had to be careful because a more assertive approach regarding other countries’ sovereignty claims in the Arctic could have undermined China’s position on its own rights and sovereignty in contested maritime spaces like the South China Sea. China applies very different approaches to defining a region as a territory in the South China Sea as it does in the Arctic Ocean. Were the Arctic states really acting any differently than China with regard to their claims in the South China Sea?

China asserts claims over some small islands in the South China Sea as well as claims to the surrounding EEZs of those islands. A few islands qualify as falling within China’s 12-nautical mile territorial sea, but a very small amount would qualify under UNCLOS as falling within the EEZ or continental shelf. Despite these facts, China has now claimed the entire South China Sea based on self-created rules. Nevertheless, China would likely have been upset if any of the Arctic five did something similar.

Because of the issues surrounding China’s claims in the South China Sea, some Chinese officials, when discussing territorial developments in the Arctic region, emphasized China’s respect for the sovereign territorial rights of Arctic countries and reassured that China’s interests in the region are benign and cooperative in nature. This was an attempt to divert the attention away from their claims in the South China Sea.


pages  316-317


                             U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy

In a changing Arctic, a lone Coast Guard icebreaker maneuvers through ice and geopolitics

Dan Lamothe

September 4, 2017

Meanwhile, China also has arrived in the Arctic, sailing research and exploration vessels while arguing that no nation has sovereignty over these waters and the natural resources below. Chinese military officials have said that sovereignty disputes in the Arctic could require the use of force, according to an assessment written for the Naval War College Review.



China’s Arctic Strategy and Its Implications

Shiloh Rainwater

Naval War College Review

China perpetuates the notion that the entire Arctic Ocean is the common heritage of humankind so as to expand its legal rights there. this sort of “lawfare,” or misuse of the “law as a substitute for traditional military means to achieve an operational objective,” is an essential component of China’s strategy, enabling the PRC to circumvent its weaker status as a Non-Arctic State through asymmetrical means.

China also appears bent on reforming the institutions governing the Arctic so as to create for itself a more favorable legal environment. China’s national news magazine Beijing review has boldly asserted that every treaty and organization constituting the Arctic legal regime—including UNCLOS, the International Maritime organization, and the Arctic Council—is riddled with flaws and must be reformed. for example, in China’s view the laws enacted by the Arctic Council are not legally binding and “a politically valid ... Arctic governance system has yet to be established.” Moreover, China sents the fact that Arctic affairs are dominated by the littoral states, claiming that “it is unimaginable that non-arctic states will remain users of arctic shipping routes and consumers of arctic energy without playing a role in the decision-making process.... [a]n end to the Arctic states’ monopoly of Arctic affairs is now imperative.”


Hypocrisy and Duplicity

Basically, China is using our international value system against us.  It pretends to support rule of law, democracy and human rights in global organizations that it is setting up; but, in reality, it is moving behind the scenes to subvert the international value system. Do not deceive yourselves by believing or pretending to believe that you are changing China. Instead, China is changing you and gradually trying to make the international value system conform to its own domestic values of repression of human rights,  authoritarianism, rule by law and destruction of the environment.

China is using the same kind of methods with respect to organizations such as the Arctic Council which is an intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states. Do you really think that China will respect the rights of indigenous peoples in the Arctic?  Initially, Canada tried to prevent China from getting observer status at the Arctic Council unless it recognized the rights of indigenous peoples. Those indigenous peoples will be treated no more or less than how China treats the peoples of Tibet or Xinjiang.

D.卡尔顿 罗西

D. Carlton Rossi