Chinese researchers say the nation should move quickly to avoid being left behind in an escalating race for natural resources and trade routes in the Arctic Ocean.
Zhang Xia, director of strategic studies at the Polar Research Institute of China, is quoted in the Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper Tuesday as saying China lags behind other countries in terms of Arctic exploration and scientific research.
Quoting a 2008 study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Global Times says the Arctic Circle holds an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered but reachable oil, and more than 45 trillion cubic meters of reachable natural gas.
The Arctic Council, a grouping of eight nations which surround the Arctic Ocean , says the vast region is being rapidly transformed by climate change. The Council recently released a report that says the ocean's nearly 21 million square kilometers are becoming more navigable due to the melting of Arctic sea ice because of rising temperatures.
Zhang says under current international law, the Arctic does not belong to any country, but it has been divided due to ambitious expansion by nearby countries. He says Beijing must speak out in the international community to “stand up for its interests” concerning both resources and navigation in the Arctic.