Fellowship to study China's polar interests

30 May 2013

China's bid to be more actively involved in Arctic and Antarctic polar governance interests is coming under the scrutiny of a University of Canterbury China and polar politica

Fellowship to study China's polar interests

Associate Professor Anne-Marie Brady

China’s bid to be more actively involved in Arctic and Antarctic polar governance interests is coming under the scrutiny of a University of Canterbury China and polar political scientist.

UC researcher Associate Professor Anne-Marie Brady has been granted a prestigious residential fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC from September. Brady will also be a senior research fellow at the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies during her visit.

From her nine-month fellowship in Washington, Professor Brady will write a new book on China’s polar policies.

China’s increased polar engagement may challenge the interests of other polar states, Professor Brady says.

"Will China continue to support international norms on the polar regions as it becomes more dominant? Is China a reluctant stakeholder in the international system?

"My fellowship project will use China's polar policies as a lens to better understand Beijing’s global behaviour and foreign policy, meanwhile examining the current challenges climate change, the global financial crisis, and declining oil production are bringing to existing governance arrangements in the polar regions.

"Climate change, globalisation, oil interests and the contrast in the rising economies of the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia India, China, South Africa) versus the declining economies of the US and the European Union is starting to put pressure on existing regimes in the Arctic and Antarctic.

"New Zealand will gain greater knowledge of the key political and economic challenge it is currently facing: the changed balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region.

"China is fast becoming the dominant player in our part of the world. It is also New Zealand’s largest trading partner. In order to face the challenge of the new world order we need to get a better sense of what China’s foreign policy intentions are and its attitude to global governance.

"As a small state, New Zealand is very dependent on multi-lateral relations and the regional architecture of multi-lateral organisations to pursue our foreign policy goals.

"New Zealand policymakers need to know to what extent China is a stakeholder in the current global order, whether China will respect existing international norms, and how China can be expected to behave in international regimes, especially those most important to our region,’’ Professor Brady says.

China’s polar behaviour is an extremely useful case study for exploring these concerns. The Antarctic is strategically important to New Zealand due to its close proximity and because New Zealand claims 21 percent of the continent as the Ross Dependency. This claim is larger in size than the whole of New Zealand, including the sea boundaries.

"China is rapidly increasing its budget and level of engagement in Antarctica and it plans to set up a new base in the Ross Dependency. It is strategically important for New Zealand to better understand what this means for our interests,’’ Professor Brady says.

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Kip Brook
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