Headline, October22, 2013

''' !!! LOOK : -WISDOM- !!! '''

The council is the main intergovernmental forum for the five countries on the Arctic Ocean   - America, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia   -and three others in the Arctic circle   _Finland, Iceland, and Sweden.

So much does China care about its application, to be considered at a ministerial meeting-  that it readied itself to swallow its fury with Norway for the award in 2010 of the Noble Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a jailed Chinese dissident.

Then, at the time, and meanwhile, a somewhat temperate debate has been under way in the Chinese press and academia about the country's ''rights'' in the Arctic.

In a survey of the arguements in 2010,  Linda Jakobson, then at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, quoted Li Zhenfu, a scholar at the Dalian Maritime University : ''Whoever has control over the Arctic route will control the new passage of world economics and international strategies.'' 

Mr Li and other Chinese scholars are urging the government to do more to assert China's interest in the Arctic.

Most of the resources in the Arctic   -88% by one Chinese estimate and 95% by the Danish one-   will fall within the 200 mile exclusive economic zone enjoyed under the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea by the five coastal countries, notably Russia.

There is no suggestion whatsoever that China wants to use the Arctic to challenge UNCLOS, which it has ratified, as have all the Arctic Council's members apart from America. China has too many maritime disputes elsewhere to want to appear an utter outlaw. 

Nor does it have expertise in drilling and mining in extreme conditions. It will need to co-operate with the Arctic countries.

The passage of the route is not a straighforward boon. either. Even as it open for shipping, it will remain a hazardous passage. Russia can be expected to exact a steep price in transit fees and pilotage. 

And the patterns of North East Asian trade are shifting towards the rest of Asia, Africa and Latin America, where the widening of the Panama Canal will have a bigger impact than the melting Arctic. The Malacca dilemma will remain.

Similarly, Singapore will stay where it was before Stamford Raffles founded it, between Asia's two great economies, India and China. The Arctic is a very long way round. 

Some officials say they are worried, but no more so than about plans to build a canal across the Isthmus of Kra, a narrow bit of southern Thai peninsula, which have been mooted for 350 years and may take as long again to be realised.

That is not to argue, of course, that the melting of the Arxtic poses no risks to Singapore or indeed the rest of the earth. As global warming disrupts weather patterns, raises sea levels and forces mass migration, a faster route from Yokohama to Rotterdam may seem only small compensation.

And to scramble to extract minerals from the unknown wastes, sheer folly. But then nations mostly act through the prism of fear and rarely think and reflect. Or do they?!

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Angola. See Ya all on the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' !!! The Arrow Of Time !!! ''' 

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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