China should have a share of the Arctic as global warming melts the polar ice and opens up shipping lanes and opportunities for exploring resources, a People's Liberation Army admiral said. As one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China, which has the world's largest population, should play a role in North Pole exploration, Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo told the China News Service yesterday. 'The Arctic belongs to all the people around the world as no nation has sovereignty over it, according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,' Yin said. 'China must play an indispensable role in Arctic exploration as we have one-fifth of the world's population,' he added. A melting ice cap is opening up the once-frozen Arctic and countries are rushing to lay claim to the abundant reserves of oil and natural gas as well as the potentially lucrative shipping routes that are opening up as the ice cap recedes. Competing sovereignty claims are primarily being discussed by the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark. But Yin stressed that all nations should have equal rights with regard to North Pole exploration. 'The current scramble for the sovereignty of the Arctic among some nations has encroached on many other countries' interests,' he said. 'Facing such a realistic and unpredictable 'Arctic proxy battle', China and other countries should find their own voices.' With scientific reports estimating that the Arctic is rich in coal, oil, natural gas, rhinestone, gold, uranium and other resources, Yin said China's involvement in North Pole exploration would also help the development of the navy. 'We have to make short and long-term ocean strategic development plans to exploit the Arctic because it will become a future mission for the navy,' he said, adding that he believed it is possible for China to engage in war on the high seas. While Yin's view does not represent China, it does reflect a growing interest within the PLA and the government in the Arctic. The Swedish-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute earlier this week said in a study that China, which is at a disadvantage as it is not an Arctic state, had started to prepare for potential commercial and strategic opportunities. The institute said China was devoting extra resources to Arctic research, mainly on science but also on the commercial, political and strategic implications of the melting of the ice in the region and opportunities to study the seabed. It said Beijing had decided to build a hi-tech icebreaker for polar expeditions, which is expected to be operational in 2013. The Arctic plan was being pushed by a few Chinese researchers, the report said, adding that they had questioned China's approach to Arctic research and urged the government to make comprehensive plans.