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Nong Hong
Nong Hong
Nong Hong, PhD, is executive director and senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies (US). www.chinaus-icas.org

With war stifling cooperation in the Arctic, including on critical climate change research, keeping the region separate from global security concerns is a growing challenge. China does not see itself as a competitor in the Arctic, but Russia’s military build-up in the region is another, more worrying matter.

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From hosting Asean leaders and visiting Asia, to the Quad meeting and Indo-Pacific economic strategy, Biden’s message is clear: the US is seeking to contain China. Stung into action, Beijing is rolling out its own countermeasures, including a global security initiative.

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The war in Ukraine has brought the geopolitical importance of the Arctic region, previously thought to benefit from a disconnect from security concerns, into focus. China has made significant investments in the Arctic, but could find itself cut off from regional decision-making if it chooses to side with Russia.

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Shared interests can open a window for US-China cooperation even when the bilateral relationship is in a tense phase. A commitment to multilateralism can also bring US closer to the other Arctic and Antarctic nations.

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Multilateralism and international cooperation have faded as vehicles for global action in the public interest in recent years. It is time to encourage effective multilateralism as a vital tool in meeting our many global challenges.

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As China deepens Arctic activities and ties with Russia, the US has ramped up both its rhetoric and military spending. Given the rich natural resources in the region, finding ways to cooperate is in everyone’s interest.

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While competition over access to resources is inevitable, security concerns aside, the three share many common interests. Recent US investment in the Arctic to counter Chinese and Russian influence heightens the need for partnership.

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The quick extraction of the Philippine navy ship from Half Moon Shoal indicates that, even as China-Philippines relations may face troubled political waters, economic considerations could provide an anchor.

A new white paper spelling out China’s intentions for the Arctic relieves some concerns over transparency and conformity to international rule of law.