Climate Change and China as a Global Emerging Regulatory Sea Power in the Arctic Ocean: Is China a Threat for Arctic Ocean Security?


The impact of climate change in the Arctic Ocean such as ice melting and ice retreat facilitates natural resources extraction. Arctic fossil fuel becomes the drivers of geopolitical changes in the Arctic Ocean. Climate change facilitates natural resource extractions and increases competition between states and can result in tensions, even military ones. This article investigates through a political and legal analysis the role of China as an emerging regulatory sea power in the Arctic Ocean given its assertive “energy hungry country behaviour” in the Arctic Ocean. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Arctic Council (AC) are taken into consideration under climate change effects, to assess how global legal frameworks and institutions can deal with China’s strategy in the Arctic Ocean. China’s is moving away from its role as “humble power” to one of “informal imperialistic” resulting in substantial impact on the Arctic and Antartic dynamism. Due to ice-melting, an easy access to natural resources, China’s Arctic strategy in the Arctic Ocean has reinforced its military martitime strategy and has profoundly changed its maritime military doctrine shifting from regional to global in the context of UNCLOS. In particular, it is wondered, what China understands about the public order dimension of UNCLOS. The article concludes that despite China’ assertive behaviour towards the Arctic environmental ocean and its rise as global sea power, for the time being, China cannot be considered as a variable for Arctic security as there are no sufficient legal and policy objective elements to adduct that it constitutes a threat to Artic ocean security.

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Cassotta, S. , Hossain, K. and Goodsite, M. (2015) Climate Change and China as a Global Emerging Regulatory Sea Power in the Arctic Ocean: Is China a Threat for Arctic Ocean Security?. Beijing Law Review, 6, 199-207. doi: 10.4236/blr.2015.63020.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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