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POLARPROG-Polarforskningsprogram

China in the Arctic: External Influence on Regional Governance (ArcGov)

Alternative title: Kina i Arktis: Ekstern påvirkning på regionale styringsmekanismer

Awarded: NOK 9.0 mill.

Project Number:

314457

Application Type:

Project Period:

2021 - 2025

Funding received from:

The impacts of climate change in the Arctic include melting sea ice, coastal erosion, and changes in the social structures of Arctic communities. New governance structures have been established, and existing mechanisms rejuvenated to tackle the region’s pressing needs. To understand how society is adapting to the rapid changes in the Arctic, we need to understand the dynamics of Arctic governance institutions and mechanisms. With Arctic issues rising on the global agenda, more actors located away from northern waters have started expressing their interest in, and opinions on, how best to govern Arctic issues. Of these, China is likely the most influential in decades to come. China’s Arctic interests are multifaceted, ranging from economic to scientific, as well as geopolitical. Although China’s presence in the Arctic has been described, the effects of its engagement on Arctic governance have not been studied in depth. We therefore ask: What, if any, are the influences of China on specific Arctic governance mechanisms? What are the effects of this influence on the same governance institutions? And what implications do these findings have for Arctic governance more broadly? Drawing on theory-based approaches from political and management science, ArcGov will study how a state external to the Arctic influences the effectiveness of governance mechanisms for dealing with specific Arctic challenges. We will examine Chinese influence on Arctic-related governance mechanisms across three levels: the international; the regional (Arctic); and the national/local (Norway). How does China – as a rising global superpower – influence or try to influence the existing and new governance structures that shape how the Arctic states adapt to and manage rapid environmental, economic and societal change? With its clear policy-relevant orientation, this project will provide new insights into governance, regionalism and institutional effectiveness in the Arctic and beyond.

To understand how society can best adapt to the rapid changes in the Arctic, we need to understand how the region is governed, i.e. the dynamics of Arctic governance institutions and mechanisms. New governance structures have been established, and existing mechanisms rejuvenated to tackle the region’s pressing needs. With Arctic issues rising on the global agenda, more actors located relatively remotely from northern waters have started expressing their interest in, and opinions on, how best to govern Arctic issues. Of these, China is likely the most influential in decades to come. China’s Arctic interests are multifaceted, ranging from economic to scientific, as well as geopolitical. However, although China’s presence in the Arctic has been described, the effects of its engagement on Arctic governance have not been studied in depth. We therefore ask: What, if any, are the influences of China on specific Arctic governance mechanisms? What are the effects of this influence on the same governance institutions? And what implications do these findings have for Arctic governance more broadly? Drawing on theory-based approaches from political and management science, the ArcGov project will study how a state external to the Arctic influences the effectiveness of governance mechanisms for dealing with specific challenges within that region. We will examine Chinese influence on Arctic-related governance mechanisms across three levels: the international; the regional (Arctic); and the national/local (Norway). How does China – as a rising global superpower – influence or try to influence the existing and new governance structures that shape how the Arctic states adapt to and manage rapid environmental, economic and societal change? With its clear policy-relevant orientation, this project will provide new insights into governance, regionalism and institutional effectiveness in the Arctic and beyond.

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Activity:

POLARPROG-Polarforskningsprogram