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The China-Norway Dialogue on The Changing Arctic and International Cooperation


The China-Norway Dialogue on The Changing Arctic and International Cooperation

Time: 15:20 – 16:20, 8 April 2017


Dialogue Transcript:


Chen Dongxiao (President of SIIS):

Today's dialogue will definitely give our Norwegians and Chinese scholars an excellent and important opportunity to compare notes on the future cooperation particular on the Arctic areas.  With that, let’s welcome Her Excellency Mrs. Solberg to give her keynote speech. Please. 


Erna Solberg (Prime Minister of Norway): 

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start by thanking the Shanghai Institute of International Studies and the Polar Research Institute of China for bringing us together to discuss the future of the Arctic. Today’s event highlights the close partnership between Norway and China in the Arctic. This is particularly strong in the field of research. 


Indeed, Norway and China have cooperated on polar research for more than 15 years. Now that our diplomatic and political relations have been normalised, I am confident that we will enjoy even closer cooperation. The fact that China is looking to the High North is positive. It gives us a shared platform to build further on. Norway intends to play a major role in defining the future direction for the Arctic. We have a clear vision. The Arctic should remain a safe, predictable and peaceful region. A region of international cooperation based on international law.

A region where development is sustainable and where there is a good balance between commercial and industrial activity and environmental concerns.

I would like to acknowledge China’s important contribution to reaching the Paris agreement (COP 21). Climate change is a serious threat.  It is therefore vital to achieve sustainable development in the Arctic and to ensure that the commitments made in Paris are honoured. The Arctic is changing and it is changing fast. The seas are warming and the ice is retreating. Human activity and international interest are growing. We must ensure that present and future activities do not come at the expense of the Arctic environment. 

At the same time, we must make sustainable use of the economic opportunities that are opening up. I believe it is possible and necessary to do both. 


The Arctic is mostly ocean - and the blue economy offers great promise for new investments, growth and employment. The ocean is the very foundation of Norway’s economy. Most of our sea area is located north of the Arctic Circle. 

We therefore have a strong interest in promoting sustainable ocean management in the region. 


Some of the world’s most productive sea areas are in the Arctic and support a rich variety of marine life. Some of the best managed sea areas in the world are also in the Arctic. In the Barents Sea, science-based management and the close fisheries cooperation between Russia and Norway have been a resounding success. Today, we have the world’s most abundant cod stock. Countries from three continents have found ways of working together in the Arctic, based on common interests and respect for international law.


We are developing new knowledge, and we are building smart regional institutions. The Arctic Council has been instrumental in finding common solutions to regional challenges. One reason for its success is that it gathers together all key stakeholders, including indigenous peoples. A robust Arctic Council, firmly supported by member states and observer countries, is a major factor in ensuring continued stability in the Arctic. We have been impressed by the US chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and we support their efforts to integrate the observers more closely into the work of the Council. We hope this will lead to more opportunities for us to strengthen our cooperation with China in the Arctic Council. Finding a good balance between prudent use and conservation is crucial. We need green and innovative solutions that will enable us to harvest Arctic resources sustainably. We must ensure that knowledge is at the heart of our policies and maintain our tradition of cooperation. 


Norway will remain at the forefront of developments in Arctic science. We wish to enhance scientific and research cooperation with China as a way of building up knowledge about sustainable development in the Arctic, and we look forward to continuing our cooperation in Ny Ålesund.


Chen Dongxiao:

Now I would like to invite my colleague to raise questions, so who would like to raise questions? OK, I see Prof. Zhang Pei. Please introduce yourself. 


Zhang Pei: 

My name is Zhang Pei from The Centre for Maritime and Polar Region Study in SIIS. Thank you very much for your stimulating speech. I'd like to ask you: would you like to give some comments on China's One Belt One Route initiative? Is there possible for China and Norway to cooperate in the arctic within the framework of One Belt One Route initiative? 


H.E. Erna Solberg:

First of all, I would like to say that One Belt and One Route initiative is a very interesting way of building new regional cooperation. I can see the development in some of the states that are lacking in development where you building in neighboring area would be an important stimulates for the jobs creation for the future. Because you also have the maritime part of it. Of course I believe for the maritime side, this would be important for the Arctic. As I said the Arctic is basically a sea. There is ice covered the sea. Even if we know that Northern part is a fragile area to have a traffic. It is the shortest way for Northern part of Europe to China, to Japan and to East Asia region. It is an area that we can cooperate with China. That is the sea way what we are discussing. We also have to consider Russia with us because they do have the land in that side most of it. It is important too aware one big principle for all activities in the Barents Sea.08:46 It is we need to have a serial emission policy to the strongest environmental demands we have. Because the arctic environment is so fragile that any economic activities in that area have to be very strong supervised on the base so no contamination and no environmental effects. Because you know everything grows very slow 09:04 in the Arctic. Thank you.


Chen Dongxiao: 

Thank your excellency for your wonderful speech outlined very important version for our common interest of maintaining the peace, stability of region and also strive for a very good balance between the development as well as conservation of its environment. I think that is very important. And I think that we are even much more looking forward our cooperation on the framework of One Belt One Route Initiative. Thank you again. 


Now I think we would better move to our second secession. that is the most important dialogue we have today: The Changing Arctic and International Cooperation. We are very honored to have four panelists to join the discussion, let me introduce them one by one: Professor Yang Huigen, from the Polar Research Institute of China, Please.


Then, Jan Gunnar Winther, the director, Norwegian Polar Institute.

And Professor Yang Jian, the Vice President of SIIS.

And finally, is the Geir Hønneland, director, Fridtjof Nansen Institute. 

You are welcome!


I think as following an excellent speech by her excellency particularly on the common interest and common challenges on the Arctic are, I believe it is our great honor to have four leading scholars, two from Norway and two from China on the Arctic Studies. I think it is important for our colleagues to compares notes about what your views of challenge and cooperation in terms of this region. I would first invite Professor Yang Huigen, the floor will be yours, please, have your remarks. I would like to remind all of you that for the sake of time, we would better to have the sense of limited time, alright? Thank you.


Yang Huigen (Director, PRIC):

First of all, I would like to thank all related authorities for granting PRIC and SIIS this great opportunity to share our view on the future of the Arctic. By this great occasion, I would present a model of Across-the-Circle Cooperation, the China–Norway Arctic Research Cooperation.


Firstly, let’s see what ’s CHINARE and some highlights of Chinese Arctic research. Although located in mid-latitudes, China has many linkages with the Arctic. Arctic change may increase China’s climate disasters. Arctic sea ice retreat, for example, in 200 was found associated with freezing raining in Southern China in January of 2008. The melt of Greenland ice sheet and Arctic glaciers is resulting in Sea level rise of China. Arctic warming may open new sea routes between East Asia and North America and Europe. As a mid-latitude country, China has to organize CHINARE, namely Chinese National Arctic Research Expedition, as its research instrument. CHINARE is organized and operated by the CAAA Chinse Arctic and Antarctic Administration and my institute.


Since 1999, CHINARE has carried out 7 cruise investigations into the Arctic Ocean with R/V Xuelong, and has established 2 research stations, namely, the Yellow River Station at Ny Alysund on Svalbard and CIAO (China-Iceland Joint Aurora Observatory) at Kallhor in Iceland. The cruise investigation with R/V Xuelong is mainly focusing on the research Arctic Rapid Change and its Tele-impacts on Mid-latitude. So far, CHINARE has delivered many important scientific findings and let’s see some highlights of them.


Topic 1: On Solar-Terrestrial Interaction

A conjugate dayside aurora observation system has been established at the Antarctic Zhongshan Station and the Arctic Yellow River Station located on one same magnetic field line. New aurora features such as dayside diffuse aurora and throat aurora were identified representing ionospheric signatures of magnetosperic dynamics and magneto sheath transients respectively.


Topic 2: On Arctic responses to global warming

CHINARE cruise investigation and deployed buoy observation in the Arctic ocean have enabled new findings on 1) the rapid change of sea ice, 2) CO2 uptaking in ice-free ocean, and 3) ocean acidification progress.

Topic 3: Tele-impacts of Arctic changes on mid-latitudes

Arctic sea ice and mid-latitude weather changes have been examined, in association with Arctic sea ice retreat in summer, East Asia may experience more frequent and/or intense extreme weather in winter


Secondly, let’s see the China–Norway Arctic research collaboration, which has been a model of Across-the-Circle Cooperation.

The China-Norway Arctic research cooperation are manifested by many important visits and exchanges, let me bring your some of those examples,

No.1, the China-Norway International Symposium on Polar Science, which was held at Shanghai in 2001, was honorably attended by HE.Trond Giske, Education and Research Minister.

l  HE. Borge Brende, Environment Minister paid a visiting to my institute on 23 Jan, 2002

l  HE.Tora Aasland, Research and Higher-Education Minister, witnessed the signing of the Agreement on Polar Research Cooperation between PRIC and NPI on Sep 9, 2010.


So far China has developed cooperation in several important areas with Norway.

Area 1. Research facility development and networking.

l  In 2004, CHINARE established its first Arctic research station, Yellow River at Ny Alesund, and started long term environmental monitoring of the Arctic.

l  With the YR Station, China has involved in Arctic observation networks such the SIOS – Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System, and the SAON – Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks

l  Chinese scientists have also involved in the Arctic Environment Assessments, participated in Arcitc council work groups such ACAP, AMAP and CAFF etc.


Area 2. Scientific Research: 1) Many collaborative research projects have been carried out, such as on inter-hemispheric space environment, on Arctic sea-ice and on organic contaminants etc. 

l  Academic Exchange and Cooperation Agreements were signed, such as the one between PRIC and University of Tromsø. Two young scientists, today they attending the meeting,Mr. Huang Dehong and Dr. Xiangcai Chen from my institute PRIC  have studied at UNIS and got their master and PhD degrees from University of Tromso and University of Oslo respectively.

l  Arctic is a place where natural processes and social developments are closely coupled and both have global significance. CNARC,namely, CHINA-NORDIC ARCTIC RESEARCH CENTER, has involved 13 research institutions from China and Nordic states into cooperation and advanced regional dialogues and collaborative research on social science.

Area 3: Science dissemination:


Without dissemination, knowledge will stop at where it is created. We have explored cooperation in science dissemination as well. Let’s see some examples of them.

ENGAGING YOUNG PEOPLE INTO ARCTIC RESEARCH.  In March 2008, a Chinese Student Arctic Expedition entitled “For the first sunshine of the Arctic” was jointly organized by the IPY China Program and MFA of Norway.

Northern Light Exhibition:  was organized at the Shanghai Science Museum in 2004, jointly by PRIC, SAST, Norwegian Consulate General and Andoya Rocket Range


Paradise of the Extremes: An IPY Art project producing a dance drama, which was successfully put on stage in 2011 and 2013, which will continue.

Till the end of the world: is a published novel of an Antarctic love story, a movie based on it will be on show in July 2017. The Writer and Director, Mr. Wu Youyin was jointly supported by PRIC and NPI to experience polar nights life at Ny Alesund on Svalbard.


By the end, let me give a summary and perspective:

l  By developing CHINARE as its research instrument, China has carried out research in the Arctic region and achieved important findings on solar-terrestrial interaction, Arctic change and their tele-impacts on mid-latitudes.

l  China and Norway have explored intensive and comprehensive cooperation from infrastructure developments to science dissemination, which has become a model of Across-the-Circle cooperation and facilitated CHINARE to advance Artic research, and helped China to raise public awareness on Arctic issues, and make evidence-based Arctic policy.

l  Low latitudes, mid-latitudes and high-latitudes are integral parts of the planet earth. China and Norway should further our cooperation on Arctic research, responding to the Arctic ramifications and make greater contribution to global strives towards a sustainable Arctic.


Thank you!


Jan Gunnar Winther (Director, Norwegian Polar Institute):

Thank you, President Chen. Prime Minister Solberg, Minister Brende, Ambassadors Wang and Sæther, distinguished guests (and friends of the Cold, Snow and Winter …)

Let me first say that it has been a pleasure to work with Chinese colleagues on polar issues during recent years. Our collaboration flourished during the years with difficult political relations. During this time of complicated situations, it is good to know that science knows no borders.

Time is short. So I will only leave you with two messages today when it comes to areas of special potential for future cooperation between our two countries: 1) one is already mentioned, understanding the climate effects on China from a changing Arctic, which scientists call teleconnections and 2) developing a sustainable blue economy, thus addressing the Ocean.


First, teleconnections: The Earth’s regions are connected by atmospheric circulation, the oceans, climate and weather patterns. Everything is connected by everything. Arctic climate change therefore has profound global consequences, contributing to sea level rise, ocean acidification, the release of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost and changing weather patterns.

So Arctic climate change is therefore arguably relevant to the weather and climate in regions distantly located from the Arctic, even as far away as China. What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Understanding these teleconnections are obviously of utmost importance for domestic management in China but is also a very important area where China can give contribution to Arctic stewardship, for example within the work of the Arctic Council.

Many of us think that our future is blue in the sense that food, energy and also resource security will increasingly depend on how we manage this enormous resource. Today, every citizen on this planet has an enormously volume of ocean that is 1 x 1 x 0.2 km large for her or his disposal!

Science must ensure that the international community strike the balance between use and conservation. Without a healthy ocean, we are unable to take full advantage from it. This is wisely reflected in China’s National Plan on Implementation of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Here, China aims at reducing marine pollution, promote ecosystem-based marine management, minimize impacts of ocean acidification and climate change, end IUU-fishing, increase areas of marine protection, increase scientific knowledge and develop marine technologies.


Today – at this very special occasion for our two counties– I would like to say that Norwegian scientists are ready to collaborate with Chinese colleagues on these issues that have great global importance.


At last, I would like to quote the famous Norwegian polar explorer and scientist Fridtjof Nansen: “It is impossible to understand the Earth without understanding the ocean”.

Thank you very much!


Yang Jian (Vice President, SIIS)

Thank you, Dr. Chen. Your Excellency and my dear friends from Norway and Shanghai. I would like take a few minutes to echo Her Excellency’s speech. As she mentioned that the Arctic is a region characterized by peace, stability, climate change, environmental concern, and international cooperation.


The spirits of Norwegian “High North” Policy is highly accorded by President Xi Jinping in his speech in Davos and Geneva in January. He said some new fields such as Deep Sea, Cyber space, Polar Regions and outer space bear the shared future for mankind, international society should realize the good governance by means of maintaining peace, respecting sovereignty based on international law, shared benefits and joint governance. These new frontiers should be field of international cooperation instead of a competition arena by powers.


My colleague and I have studied the “High North” policy for reference. We think it is the most comprehensive and sophisticated national policy on the Arctic. The reasons are following: Firstly, it is an evidence-based policy and science-based management that brings traditional knowledge and modern science knowledge together; Secondly, it well balances the economic development and the environmental protection; Thirdly, it builds a good connection between Norwegian high north region and international cooperation in arctic governance. Lastly, it attaches great importance to the people’s welfare in that region. It is very impressive. It reminds me of our new leadership’s philosophy on future’s development and our engagement in global governance. The philosophy has five key words: one is innovation, second is coordination, third is green, the fourth one opening up, and the fifth sharing.


Our institute has a very good cooperation with our Fridtjof Nansen Institute and also the Norwegian Polar Institute. I would like quote one saying of Fridtjof Nansen. “The difference between the possible and the impossible is that the impossible takes a little longer.” Since 2012, we have carried on a project on “Asian countries and the Arctic future” with the Fridtjof Nansen Institute. Our joint-research is timely one. Because in 2013, supported by Norway government and other Arctic countries, China was granted a formal observer status in Arctic Council with Japan, Korea and other Asia countries. Leiv Lunde, the former director of Nansen institute made great contribution to our cooperation and also to the normalization of our bilateral relation. It is pity that he is absent from this important event today because of some reasons. This is our co-edited book, one of our joint academic achievements. Hereby I would like on behalf of Leiv Lunde and other contributors to present this book to your Excellency Prime Minister.

Thank you very much.


Geir Hønneland (Director, Fridtjof Nansen Institute)

“My institute is a foreign policy and international relations research institute, located in the private home of polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen, one of Norway’s biggest national heroes. Focusing on environmental, resource and energy law and politics, we have maintained competence on China and contact with Chinese scientific institutions for more than two and a half decades. The last few years we have, in particular, built up relations with experts on Arctic law and politics at PRIC, SIIS and various universities in Shanghai, bilaterally and under the auspices of CNARC.


I want to make three points, and each can be illustrated by my book “Making Fishery Agreements Work”, which describes how Norway and Russia for nearly half a century have conducted a successful joint management of the rich fish resources in the Barents Sea, including the world’s largest cod stock. The book, originally published in English, was picked up by scientists here in Shanghai, who took the initiative to have in translated into Chinese. They found a Chinese academic press that was interested in publishing it, and last October I was invited to book launch at Tongji University!


What does this tell us? Firstly, it shows that Norway and China indeed have common interests. Both are important fishing nations – China is by far the most important fish producer in the world, but Norway is a good number two when it comes to revenues from fish export. Norway and China also have joint interest in better understanding our common great-power neighbor Russia, which the book is also about. Secondly and most importantly in an Arctic context, the book is about how scientific knowledge is transferred into politics. While our knowledge about the Arctic environment has improved significantly over the last couple of decades, we still have an insufficient understanding of the extent to which, and the ways in which, this knowledge is transposed into politics. Compare with climate politics – the problem is not a lack of understanding of the natural processes that lead to climate change, but of the conditions for successful international cooperation. I envisage that this is where our joint research effort with political scientists and international lawyers here in Shanghai will be directed in the coming years. Thirdly and lastly, we are extremely well positioned to conduct this research together. We have now spent a few years to establish a fruitful working relation, at a personal and institutional level, and it is time to move into genuinely joint research – we are only just beginning!” Thank you!


Chen Dongxiao:

Before I gave our floor to our audience, it is our great honor and pleasure to invite Mr. Ruud to give our 2 minutes’ comments on our dialogue. Mr. Kenneth Ruud is prorector for research, University of Tromsø.


Kenneth Ruud (Prorector for Research, University of Tromsø):

The University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway is the institution with the largest contribution to arctic research in Norway. I would like use this opportunity to support what has already been mentioned by the previous speakers, namely the need to understand, through research, the changes that are now happening in the arctic, and international collaboration is key for obtaining the necessary understanding of both the causes and the effects of the changes in the global climate, and in particular so in the arctic region. 

Professor Yang Huigen showed a long history of collaboration with polar research institutes in China and the University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway. I would like to state here that our university's commit to strengthening our scientific collaboration with China both on arctic questions as well as other research areas of mutual interests. 


Our university has recently join the China-Nordic Arctic Research Center. I will be traveling to next symposium in Dalian at the end of May to confirm this commitment and to present the research program "The Nansen legacy". 


"The Nansen legacy" is a new research program which initiated by Norwegian government this year. It gathers 8 Norwegian institutions in a multidisciplinary research effort to understand and predict natural and human influences on the Barents Sea ecosystem beyond the present ice edge. A key to the success of this research program is strong connections to other international research activities in the Arctic. 


Our university will also visit Shanghai and Hangzhou in the first week of May. This trip will include meetings with the Polar Institute of China, The China-Nordic Arctic Research Center, The Nordic Center in Fudan University as well as several of the leading research institutions in these cities. 

So once again I am very much looking forward to continue and further strengthen our collaboration with China.


Chen Dongxiao: 

Thank you Mr. Ruud. Very encouraging words for our future cooperation. Now we have only time for one question from our audience, so I would like to invite Zhao Long, please.

Zhao Long:

Thank you! My name is Zhao Long from SIIS. My question goes to our two Norwegian colleagues. Because as we all know, Norway is a big power in terms of Arctic science, I have been to your institutions, Svalbard Science Center and was impressed by them, China is also an emerging country in that field. In your opinion, what kind of role the knowledge and scientific research are playing in the Arctic governance? Thank you.


Chen Dongxiao: 

Mr. Winther you first.


Jan Gunnar Winther:

Well, I believe science plays very important role in governance. It plays very clearly in the Arctic collaboration. I mentioned the Arctic Council - the main body of governance facilities for making decisions. When it comes to China through there. As a near Arctic country, the great capacity which stepping up significantly, both in the Arctic and in Arctic, will become a very important family member addressing these issues that we need knowledge in international cooperation is critical especially in these very difficult and successful areas.  and we can give our politicians the best grounds for making healthy and sound decisions. So in my mind that China will play more and more important role in that context. Thank you. 


Geir Hønneland: 

Yes, I agree, I just want to make a brief answer which repeat what I said in my presentation. We do have a lot of scientific knowledge and knowledge is definitely used in politics. But we do not know enough about how that knowledge is transferred into politics which is the main challenge really. My experience natural scientists more often work together across boundaries than social scientist do because social scientist is more colored by the culture in the countries where the research takes place. But to be frank, I'm not very happy and I'm a little bit surprise actually about how close we are to the political science research.  In Shanghai we are really on the same page academically.


Chen Dongxiao: 

Thank you, thank you for your frank and also very enlightening points about the questions. For the sake of time, we would better come to the end of our Q&A and I will leave the floor to his excellency, Mr. Brende, the Foreign Minister of Norway to have your final words for this dialogue. Please! 



Børge Brende (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway): 

Thank you so much. I try to sum up this very rich dialogue.  I'm very glad to be backed here in Shanghai, to discuss the Arctic. It is a very important cooperation between China and Norway in the field of Arctic question. I think we have also seen that we are we live in the era of geopolitical changes. Globalization is increasingly turning east, China, East Asia and also South, see those fast growing region. But in the same time, we are also seen the globalization is also turning to the North, Arctic. So east and west meets. I think also the Arctic is an excellent present for cooperation. It is a continent that we have found exceptional ways working together. That always the case is this. I think we are working well together based on common interests and respect for international law and driven by our west scientific knowledge. In the era where the values of trade and cooperation across border are been questioned, I believe that message and lesson from the Arctic is clear. The road to peace, stability and prosperity makes with trade, cooperation and as I said the respect to the law of sea. As we have heard today, cooperation between China and Norway is substantial as it still has a tremendous potential in science, business, trade and tourism and we meeting global challenges altogether. Due to the size of China, the second largest economy in the world, 1.3 billion people, the way China’s development for past decades is a miracle on our planet. China's road forward is defining also primary hope in our planet. So cooperating with China is also very important in defining where we goanna be. We have so much work to do when it comes to the Arctic, the climate change, the renewable energy, the sustainable development issues. I work with most of you as a member of China Council. We know that China also can really take global leadership in mitigating CO2 emissions, also addressing climate changes sticking to Paris agreement for example. Let’s moving forward. Thank your professor Yang and thank you all.


Chen Dongxiao: 

Thank you his excellency for your very wonderful summarization of this dialogue. I think the dialogue is extremely rich, as you said we need to keep potential, we need to catch up to furthering our cooperation on multilateral issues. That's the end of our dialogue. Let's again give thanks to her excellency, and distinguish delegations from Norway as well as Ambassador Mr. Wang and all fellows and researches from China and Norway. Thank you very much.