On the afternoon of June 12th, a seminar on the "Antarctic and China from a Global Perspective" was held at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China (RDCY). The report themed "China’s Antarctic Strategy in the New Era – Thinking and Suggestions Based on Field Research”was released at the conference, which was China’s first report focusing on Antarctic strategy research .
Liu Yuanchun, Vice President of Renmin University of China (RUC) and Executive Director of RDCY, Zhang Zhanhai, former Vice Chairman of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and director of the Ministry of Land and Resources, Lin Jian, professor of RUC and editor of Journal of Renmin University of China, Zhang Xinbo, Associate Research Fellow of Institute of Maritime Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, Wang Wanlu, Postdoctoral Fellow of Peking University, Liu Fubin, former member of China’s Antarctic and Arctic scientific expedition team, Zhang Lei, General Manager of polar exploration division of a tourism group, and Dong Ximiao, Senior Research Fellow of RDCY attended the conference and participated in academic discussions.
June is a memorable month for China’s Antarctic cause. In June 1984, the statement on China`s first expedition team to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica submitted jointly by the State Oceanic Administration, the SCAR, the State Scientific and Technological Commission, the PLA Navy, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the State Council and the Central Military Commission was formally approved. The scientific research on Antarctica was officially launched in China. Thirty-four years later, China’s Antarctic cause has made great progress and brilliant achievements.
However, due to China’s late entry into the Antarctic Treaty system, the lack of ability on the participation in Antarctic governance as well as on the influence and discourse within this system is far from meeting China’s development strategic needs. Therefore, standing at a new historical point, China needs to create a new "Antarctic View", striving to build the relationship between China, Antarctica and the world from the perspective of global governance, and thinking about the huge strategic significance of China`s participation in Antarctic governance.
In recent years, especially since 2015, China has paid more and more attention to global governance issues. It reflects the fundamental changes that are taking place in China’s relations with the world: China’s role is changing from an “outsider” of the global governance system to the “insider” and “learner” and even to the “leader”. during this process, China has gradually developed a new type of global governance concept with its own characteristics, trying to go beyond the inherent thinking of traditional international politics, such as the law of the jungle, zero-sum game, and geo-competition, to promote the establishment of a more open, inclusive and equal global governance system.
Guided by this philosophy, China has proposed initiatives such as the “Belt and Road” Initiative and the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind. Although the legal status of Antarctica is still controversial, it is the last virgin land of the earth. It is related to the well-being of mankind and is one of the best practice sites for the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind.
In the future, governance of global common regions will become a major core issue of the global governance system. Polar, deep-sea, outer space and cyberspace are four global common regions. In the past, human activities rarely touched these areas, but in the future, the interaction of people, countries, international organizations and other activities in these fields will become increasingly complex, and these regions have not established a sophisticated governance mechanism. For China, this is a scarce historical opportunity. Participating in governance of the global common regions can give China an opportunity to shape international mechanisms and norm with new global governance concepts.
Entering the new era, China has confronted various grave challenges in the course of participating in the Antarctic governance. China’s security interest in Antarctic is easily exposed to the potential threats brought by the instabilities of the Antarctic Treaty system; the utilization of resource is far from optimized; the backward level of scientific research and deficient capability of scientific expedition cannot keep abreast with the speed of national development aspirations; and competition for the sphere of influence hindered behind the Antarctic Specially Protected Area escalated by the existing powers hampers the new-comers’ endeavor to further explore and develop.
Deeply participating into the Antarctic governance enables China to lead the global governance. Fully optimizing the resources of Antarctic facilitates the upgrading and transformation of China’s economy, and attaching significance to Antarctic security also promotes the overall security of China. In addition, developing the capabilities of scientific research is conducive to bolster China’s position in the Antarctic governance playground, and observing the ecological environment in Antarctic helps respond to the challenge of climate change.
The report gave several suggestions for China to participate in the Antarctic governance more effectively and efficiently. pay high regard to the sovereign disputes and their potential risks and practically maintain the stability of the Antarctic Treaty system; promote the steadily development of Antarctic tourism and enhance the establishment of relevant regulations at home; increase the construction input in Antarctic and improve the infrastructures for scientific expedition and tourism; strengthen the cooperation among relative parties in southern ocean and contribute Chinese wisdom to the Antarctic governance system; optimize the domestic management structure of Antarctic affairs and cultivate international talents for the Antarctic governance.