The Promise of Involvement: Asia in the Arctic

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  • July 2013
    Arctic: The New Front

    In late 2012, the first liquefied natural gas tanker to sail through the Northern Sea Route reached its destination in Japan, carrying gas from a Euro–Arctic offshore field. Only months earlier, a Korean-owned naval architecture and engineering company had won the contract for designing the long-awaited new icebreaker for Canada's coast guard, 1 and China had completed its fifth Arctic marine survey from its own ice-capable research vessel. The same year saw India apply for permanent observer status in the Arctic Council, a high-level forum for addressing Arctic issues, thus joining an expanding group of Asian applicants that already counted China, Japan, Korea and Singapore. The recent surge in Asian interest in the Arctic has been followed closely by the states of the Arctic region: Should they worry about this development, or see it as an asset in their efforts to manage the rapid changes underway in the Arctic?