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China to play peaceful role in Arctic development

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-19 03:23

HELSINKI - China will act as a serious player and peaceful power after it has been accepted by the Arctic Council as a formal observer, Chinese Embassador to Finland Huang Xing has said.

"I am pleased to learn the news that China has been accepted as a formal observer of this organization," he told Xinhua in an interview in Helsinki late Friday.

He stressed that China will be a very serious member and will contribute to the peaceful and sustainable development of the Arctic region.

China, together with Japan, India, Italy, Singapore and South Korea, were approved of full observer status in the Arctic Council on Wednesday, although their membership should be reassessed and renewed every four years.

The new participants, most of whom are Asian countries, do not have voting rights, but are allowed to raise proposals and participate in discussions.

"An observer has limited rights, but anyhow, we would very much like to participate in the discussion in the political arena, and also in scientific research, as well as in the economic field," Huang told Xinhua.

Stressing that China will "act in a positive way," he expected that after contributing its part, China could naturally "get benefits out of the developments in research, economic exploitation as well as transport."

"Especially in the transport sector," he said, "I think in the future it will save time and energy which is very significant for the marine transport between Asia and Europe."

However, he admitted it is still uncertain when the sea ice might disappear seasonally, providing easy passage for shipments. "It is very difficult to get that conclusion but anyway the tendency is that some ice has already melted away."

Earlier, an Arctic scientist told Xinhua that the sea ice could possibly melt away in summer sometime between 2030 and 2040.

"It dose not mean that the sea ice will completely disappear," but since the multi-year ice is gone and icebreakers can operate better during winter months in different parts of the Arctic Ocean, said Timo Koivurova, a professor from the University of Lapland, Finland.

Complimenting China's "responsible role" in the Arctic scientific study, Koivurova also believed it is time for the Arctic Council to take in new observers. He also believed the eight-member Council will act as a real governance body in the region.

Huang also believed the Arctic Council has a vital role in the region, but he "is not certain" if it will act as a real governance body widely approved by the international community, stressing the fact that some political matters are still not settled down yet.

Huang deemed it important "to see the healthy development" in the area. "I am sure it is a matter which not only concerns the surrounding countries of the arctic but also concerns other members of the international community."

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