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Asia Minute: Unlikely Asian Allies Cooperating on Arctic Research

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Three Asian countries that are often rivals have agreed to cooperate when it comes to the Arctic Ocean. China, Japan and South Korea will conduct a joint mission to take a closer look at the impacts of climate change. And the work is not only focused on science. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.


Melting ice, rising sea levels and climbing temperatures are all crucial parts of the shared Arctic research involving China, Japan, and South Korea.

But there’s also a commercial side to this project.

Melting ice means that new shipping routes are likely to open up in coming years—a fact acknowledged in a joint statement following a high-level diplomatic meeting late last week.

There was also a mention of natural resources that may emerge in the region—including rare earth minerals….and a potential competition for access.

Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review writes that the three nations want to “avoid falling behind countries bordering the Arctic, including Russia and the United States.”

Moscow and Washington are part of the eight-member Arctic Council. While China, Japan and South Korea only have “observer” status with that group.

Another Asian observer on the Arctic Council: India.

The American Meteorological Society cites growing evidence linking melting Arctic ice with the pattern of India’s monsoon rain seasons.

As for China, Japan and South Korea, China’s Xinhua News Agency reports that Beijing will host the next meeting of the Trilateral High-Level Dialogue on the Arctic next year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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