China “will not interfere in the exclusive affairs between Arctic countries within the region,” nor will it be “absent” from the development of the Arctic.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks in a regular news conference on Tuesday as the United States warned about Beijing’s involvement in the region.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China’s actions in the Arctic had to be watched closely as he arrived in northern Finland for a meeting of nations with territory in the Arctic.
Geng said that Pompeo’s remarks “were totally out of sync with the facts.”
“It is inconsistent with the general trend of peaceful cooperation in the Arctic, completely confuses right with wrong, and has ulterior motives,” he noted, stressing that Arctic matters don’t only concern countries in the Arctic, but have global significance.
The spokesperson added that China is willing to work with relevant parties to jointly understand and protect the Arctic and make its own contribution to the region’s peace, stability, and sustainable development.
The Arctic Council consists of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States. China has had observer status since 2013.
China’s first-ever white paper on Arctic policy was released in January last year. It noted that China will strive to extend its Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic region.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes.
According to the white paper, the initiative will bring opportunities for parties concerned to jointly build a “Polar Silk Road,” and facilitate connectivity and sustainable economic and social development of the Arctic.
“China, as a responsible major country, is ready to cooperate with all relevant parties to seize the historic opportunity in the development of the Arctic, to address the challenges brought by the changes in the region,” the white paper noted.
By the end of 2017, China had carried out eight scientific expeditions in the Arctic Ocean.