China as a Polar Great Power

Anne-Marie BradyContemporary China Seminar Series – University of Melbourne

Professor Anne-Marie Brady
University of Canterbury, New Zealand

5.30-7.00pm, Thursday 8 September 2016
Evan Williams Theatre (Room G03), Richard Berry Building, Monash Road, University of Melbourne

Admission is free, but places are limited so registration is essential

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In the last five years China has emerged as a member of the unique club of nations who are powerful at both poles. Polar states are global giants, strong in military, scientific, and economic terms. The concept of a polar great power is relatively unknown in international relations studies. Yet China, a rising power globally, is now widely using this term to sum up its aspirations and symbolise the significance of the polar regions to China’s national interests. Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping first referred to China as a polar great power when he visited Australia in November 2014. China’s focus on becoming a polar great power represents a fundamental re-orientation—a completely new way of imagining the world. China’s signalling that it is poised to enter the ranks of the polar great powers reveals both a deep need for status change in the international system and an awareness of a gap in global geopolitics that China alone has the unique ability to fill. In setting its sights on the polar regions now, China is looking to the mid to long term and planning for its future economic, political, and strategic needs. The Chinese government’s stated core national interests in the current era—to maintain China’s social system and state security, to preserve state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the continued stable development of the economy and society—all require access and engagement in the polar regions. China has global interests and is well on the way to becoming a global great power. In order to succeed in this evolution it must be powerful in the polar regions. China is currently acting out an undeclared foreign policy in the polar regions, and it is a situation that provides a useful indicator of China’s attitude to global governance issues more widely.

Dr Anne-Marie Brady is Professor of Political Science at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington DC and non-resident Senior Fellow at the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham. In 2014 she was appointed to a two-year term on the World Economic Forum’s Global Action Council on the Arctic. A highly regarded specialist on Chinese politics as well as polar politics, she is editor-in-chief of The Polar Journal, and has written four monographs, six edited books, and more than forty scholarly papers on a range of issues including China’s Arctic and Antarctic interests, China’s modernised propaganda system, New Zealand-China relations, NZ foreign policy and competing foreign policy interests in Antarctica. Her most recent book is China as a Polar Great Power (New York: Cambridge University Press and Wilson Press, 2016).