Chinese representatives attending an ongoing symposium in northern Finland has delivered a clear message that they are prepared to work with stakeholders to achieve the goal of building a sustainable Arctic region.
"As a country that is geographically close to the Arctic Region and an important stake holder, China is fully prepared to work with countries in the region," said Chinese Ambassador to Finland Yu Qingtai in his keynote speech on Tuesday.
"We fully share the concept of Sustainable Arctic. We are happy to continue to work with all stake holders to achieve this objective," he added.
The fourth China-Nordic Arctic Cooperation Symposium takes place this week in Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland, a far north area inhabited by a combination of ethnic groups including the Arctic indigenous Sami people.
Yu underlined the importance "to bear in mind that in all Arctic related activities, the interests, traditions, value and concerns of the indigenous communities must be fully respected."
He said "it is also essential that all such activities must be based on relevant international laws and the domestic laws of the Arctic countries."
OPPORTUNITIES VS CHALLENGES
Hosted by the Arctic Center of the University of Lapland, the symposium gathers hundreds of experts, researchers and decision makers and business operators related to the Arctic development from China and Nordic countries.
Themed with "The Sustainable Arctic - Opportunities and Challenges of Globalization," the four-day conference focuses on the challenges and opportunities globalization brings to the Arctic. Hot topics ranging from tourism, fishing, mining, indigenous rights and policy advising are to be discussed during the sessions.
"Arctic issues cover both regional aspects as well as aspects that go beyond regional boundaries," said Yu. He took the climate change as an example: "The impact of climate change on the Arctic region will not be limited to the ecological systems in the area, but will also have environmental, economic and social implications in the region and beyond."
Yu believed that "challenges and opportunities coexist and can be transformed."
He said shipping, the exploration of resources and Arctic tourism have often been viewed as offering good prospects for development, but "if handled inappropriately, there can be irreversible consequences to the fragile ecological environment of the region, and to the unique social-cultural heritage of indigenous communities."
He called for more responsible cooperation at the international level and commitment to "whatever cooperation agreed upon."
Analysts believe that the Arctic region is receiving increasing international scientific and political attention for three reasons: climate change, political-economic globalization and research.
The most evident new partners are Asian powers, whose economic and political influence has been growing these days. China, India, Japan and South Korea were among six non-Arctic countries that were recognized as observers of the Arctic Council in 2013.
The new trend saw the creation of China-Nordic Arctic Research Center (CNARC) in Shanghai in 2013, a mechanism grouping four Chinese and six Nordic leading institutes. The purpose of the project is to provide a platform for academic cooperation to increase awareness, understanding and knowledge of the Arctic and its global impacts. It is also supposed to promote cooperation for sustainable development of the Nordic Arctic.
China cooperated with Norway and Iceland in establishing two Arctic observation stations in the Arctic region in 2004 and 2013 respectively, noted Lv Bin, Vice Administrator of China's State Oceanic Administration.
Lv also mentioned in his speech on Tuesday the historic incident that Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon passed through the Northeast Passage and successfully visited Iceland, promoting the exchanges with the public in 2012.
The role that China has played has won appreciation from Nordic decision makers. Maria Lohela, Speaker of the Parliament of Finland, said in her keynote speech the China-Nordic cooperation "is an excellent example of the share of knowledge and interest."
"China is an invaluable partner for us here in Finland or in the Nordic," Lohela commented when talking to Xinhua. "China being such an important operator in many areas, technological and business areas, we absolutely need China," she said.
While expecting closer cooperation with China, Lohela also voiced her concern that local residents should be involved.
Even though many indigenous people are also involved in modern business life, some people completely follow their traditional life style. Lohela said "we need to make sure that their culture doesn't become a history."
Mentioning Finland has a history of open society, Lohela said "we need to cherish what we have and make sure those livelihood can be still carried out in the future. We have to listen to those people beforehand not afterward." Enditem