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East Asian Interest in the Arctic Region

Student: Lucrezia Lo schiavo

Supervisor: Iftikhar Lodhi

Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences

Educational Programme: Political Analysis and Public Policy (Master)

Final Grade: 8

Year of Graduation: 2017

In 2013, China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea became Permanent Observers of the Arctic Council (AC). Three main elements recalled Asian attention towards such a cold and remote region: natural resources, shipping routes, and new fishing grounds. As a matter of fact, as Arctic’s secular ice caps melt due to climate change, new opportunities for the development of the region arise. From the analysis of data, official documents, and studies conducted by East Asian and Arctic experts, it emerges a deep lack of Asian cohesion within the AC to pursue common goals. Despite sharing many interests for the Arctic region, Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo prefer to establish individual partnership with the other AC members. This research identifies the numerous open disputes in the East Asian region as the main reason for the absence of an “Asian group” to defend Asian interests within the AC. Nevertheless, the active participation of China, Japan, and South Korea in the Arctic can help them develop mutual trust. Although they decided to work separately in the AC, there are instances of collaboration within multilateral research projects. Furthermore, the AC sends a second message of cooperation to Asian countries. Similarly to East Asia, the Arctic also includes countries that have not always enjoyed peaceful relations and that still today have not resolved all marine disputes. The AC is proving to be a successful example of regional governance to both Asian countries and the rest of the world.

Full text (added December 14, 2016)

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