Arctic Dimension of Chinas Foreign Policy and Russias Regional Interests

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-7-60-68
D. Tulupov (,
St. Petersburg State University, 1/3, entr. 8, Smol’nogo Str., St. Petersburg, 191060, Russian Federation

Acknowledgements. The article has been supported by a grant of the Russian Science Foundation. Project no. 17-18-01110.

Abstract. For the past few years, the Arctic has become an indispensable element of the Chinese foreign policy discourse. This article is meant to explore the essence and the character of Beijing’s regional aspirations and how they relate to Russian regional strategy. Despite a genuine interest of Chinese organizations in contributing to transformations of the political and economic landscape of the Arctic, one could argue, that polar affairs so far do not constitute a matter of the first and foremost concern for Beijing’s diplomacy. The balance of regional interests between China and Russia is differing from one issue to another. The maximum synergy has been achieved in the LNG production area – here Russia is playing the role of an ideal supplier, while China provides maximum demand for this commodity and the lion’s share of required project financing. However, Russian oil & gas companies are well aware of risks emerging from over-dependency on Chinese investments. So, in the course of designing future Arctic projects (notably, the “Arctic LNG” by NOVATEK), they are explicitly pursuing the strategy of diversification of the potential investors’ scope. In contrast, the PRC’s involvement into the development of the Arctic shipping along the Russian northern coast turns out to be not so substantial as it might appear in the mass media. The COSCO’s core area of business is container traffic, and the Northern Sea Route so far is not ready to provide this type of cargo transportation in a regular and safe way. That is why China’s performance in the NSR is limited to shipments of metal constructions and spare parts for wind-power mills, which are of rather limited added value in comparison with the container traffic (though the number of the COSCO’s Arctic transits has been rising since 2015). Finally, in military-strategic terms, the Arctic might attract the attention of the PLAN’s Command in the long run (by the time of accomplishment of the latest (third) stage of the Chinese Navy reform, i.e. by 2050). The Arctic Ocean might potentially be of interest for Beijing as an additional (and maybe the safest) area for the deployment of SSBNs. In the future, China could be even potentially interested in the establishment of a naval base(s) on the Russian northern coast, so to maintain a regular character of SSBNs’ operations in the Arctic Ocean. However, a positive feedback from Russian authorities to such an idea is highly unlikely, taking into account basic principles underlying the Russian Maritime Strategy.

Keywords: Arctic, China, Russia, LNG, infrastructure, Northern Sea Route, military security


1. Chang G. China’s Arctic Play. The Diplomat, 09.03.2010. Available at: (accessed 14.07.2018).

2. Zagorskii A.V. Rossiya i Kitai v Arktike: raznoglasiya real’nye ili mnimye [Russia and China in the Arctic: Whether Real or Imaginary Controversies]. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2016, vol. 60, no. 2, pp. 63-71.

3. Xu G. Interesy i politika KNR v Arktike: istoriya, pravovye osnovy, realizatsiya [PRC’s Interests and Policy in the Arctic: History, Legal Foundations, Implementation]. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2016, vol. 60, no. 2, pp. 52-62.

4. Holling C.S. Resilience and Stability of Ecological Systems. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 1973, vol. 4, pp. 1-23.

5. China’s Arctic Policy. The State Council the People’s Republic of China, 26.01.2018. Available at: (accessed 11.07.2018).

6. Permissions for Sailing in the NSR Water Area. NSR Administration, 2019 (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 14.03.2020).

7. The APEC CEO Summit the Russian President Took Part in the APEC Business Summit. The President of the Russian Federation, 07.10.2013. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 14.07.2018).

8. In 2015 the Transit Via the NSR has Decreased 7 Times. “Finmarket” Information Agency, 03.02.2016. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 10.07.2018).

9. China Ocean Shipping Group Will Have More than 10 Merchant Ships Crossing the Arctic Channel this Summer. Xinhua, 19.06.2018. (In Chin.) Available at: (accessed 01.07.2018).

10. CMA CGM will not Use the Northern Sea Route. CMA CGM Group, 23.08.2019. Available at: (accessed 19.03.2020).

11. Maersk Containership Completes Historic Passage of Northern Sea Route. gCaptain, 28.09.2018. Available at: (accessed 11.03.2019).

12. Zhao H., Hu H., Lin Y. Study on China-EU ontainer Shipping Network in the Context of Northern Sea Route. Journal of Transport Geography, 2016, vol. 53, pp. 50-60.

13. Gudev P. A. Arkticheskie ambitsii Podnebesnoi [Arctic Ambitions of the Celestial Empire]. Russia in Global Affairs, 20.08.2018. Available at: (accessed 12.03.2020).

14. Gudev P.A. Novye riski i vozmozhnosti mezhgosudarstvennogo sotrudnichestva v Arktike [New Risks and Opportunities of the Inter-state Cooperation in the Arctic]. Arctic and North, 2019, no. 36, pp. 57-83.

15. Dzyadko T., Fadeeva A. NOVATEK dosrochno zapustil tret’yu ohered’ zavoda “Yamal SPG” [NOVATEK has Put a Third Train of “Yamal LNG” into Operation Ahead of Schedule]. RBK, 22.11.2018. Available at: (accessed 13.03.2020).

16. Mordyushenko O. “Arktik SPG” uvelichivaetsya v ob’emah [“Arctic LNG” has Expanded]. Kommersant, 01.02.2018. Available at: (accessed 12.07.2019).

17. The Matter of Time: French TOTAL will Decide on the Participation in the “Arctic LNG‑2” Project. Information Agency “Sever-Press”, 01.05.2018. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 08.07.2019).

18. Toporkov A. Rossiya vyhodit na rynok SPG ne pozdno I ne rano – vovremya [Russia is Entering the LNG Market Neither Late, Nor Early – Just in Time]. Vedomosti, 14.02.2018. Available at: (accessed 09.07.2018).

19. Kolbina L. Sami s usami [We know better]. Expert-Ural, 25.12.2017. Iss. 1. Available at: (accessed 01.04.2020).

20. Aizhu C., Gloystein H. China Gas Demand to Surge in 2019, but Maybe not Enough to Sop up LNG Glut. Reuters, 08.04.2019. Available at: (accessed 01.04.2020).

21. Announcement of Treasury Sanctions on Entities Within the Financial Services and Energy Sectors of Russia, Against Arms or Related Materiel Entities, and those Undermining Ukraine’s Sovereignty. U.S. Department of the Treasury, 16.07.2014. Available at: (accessed 11.07.2019).

22. Vagit Alikperov: Chinese Loans are Most Expensive in the World. Novosti i obzory neftegazokhimicheskoi otrasli, 09.09.2015. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 14.07.2019).

23. Xin Z., Min Z. COOEC Delivers 36 Core Modules of Yamal LNG Project on Time. China Daily, 17.04.2017. Available at: (accessed 01.04.2020).

24. Wang R.S. China’s Evolving Strategic Doctrine. Asian Affairs, October 1984, vol. 24, no. 10, pp. 1040-1055.

25. Mahnken T. Current Sino-Soviet Military Relations. Asian Affairs, Summer 1987, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 91-105.

26. Cheung T.M. Growth of Chinese Naval Power: Priorities, Goals, Missions, and Regional Implications. Singapore, South East Asian Studies Inst., 1990. 64 p.

27. Strategic Trends Programme. Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2045. European Strategy and Policy Analysis System. Available at: (accessed 01.04.2020).

28. Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, 05.07.2018. Available at: (accessed 14.07.2018).

29. Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation. Approved by the President of the Russian Federation on 26.07.2015. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 14.07.2019).

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Tulupov D. Arctic Dimension of Chinas Foreign Policy and Russias Regional Interests. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 7, pp. 60-68.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 5
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • Are There Any Ways to Break Through the Korean Nuclear Impasse?
  • Contemporary U.S. Taiwan Policy: Balancing on the Edge
  • The Gulf Monarchies’ Vision of the Global Order Transformations and the Russian Place in It
  • At Post-Soviet Space
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.