On The Latest Chinese Space Research – 2018

According to Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, the first Romanian astronaut, former president of ASE- the Association of the Space Explorers (the professional association of astronauts), and former chairman of UN COPUOS (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space) between 2010-2012 , “China is strikingly advanced in space activities and focused on manned human space flights”.

Prunariu was a special guest, invited to the 21st IAA HIS Symposium in Shenzhen, the Chinese frontier city of science and technology that gathered 9 astronauts and 150 researchers from 60 countries, at the end of November.

The Chinese research presented in Shenzhen was evidence of the advanced level of technology that is being produced.

The Chinese research on the active exoskeleton control technology based on 3E+ (EEG, EMG, ECG, eye movement, camera, pressure and angular info), conducted by Xuejun Jiao, Rui Yin, Jin Jiang and Jinda Feng aims at  providing intelligent power-assistant equipment for astronauts. In order to reduce the astronaut’s task load and to provide energy support, this technology provides a combination of exoskeleton and a BCI (brain-computer interface). The study turns out to be a breakthrough in this field: “in order to improve the application of the EVA (extravehicular activity) space suit, the robotic system in the outer space will identify the astronaut’s motor intention and control the exoskeleton system by brain activity”. The exoskeleton controlled by hybrid BCI embodies a fusion of execution, perception and decision levels through multi-sensor technology, including physiological signal, biomechanics information and video info and through a recognition algorithm of motor intention and control algorithm of a delicate operation.

Another experiment presented during the 21st IAA HIS Symposium in Shenzhen by Jin Jiang, Rui Yin, Xuejun Jiao and Jing Jing Pan on the BCI (brain-computer interface) and involving 6 human subjects confirms that humans can control robotic devices only by brain signal.  With the advantage of portability, low-cost and non-invasiveness, the BCI based on EEG is seen to be one of the best applications in human-machine interaction for spaceflight tasks. Since the accuracy of the BCI ability to distinguish targets is above 70%, the ultimate purpose of this research is to develop real-time intelligent miniaturization BCI for future EVA (extra-vehicular activities) space suit.

As an annual delegate to COPUOS, Prunariu is very familiar with China’s space achievements: “China has invited developing nations to conduct experiments on its space station planned to be on the orbit in 2022, and has signed an agreement with the UNOOSA (Office for Outer Space Activities) so that UNOOSA could select experiments from the developing countries to be conducted aboard on the Chinese space station for free, which proves that China considers the UN as highly important in international cooperation! No other nation has ever signed such agreement! And it does not neglect any possibility to conclude an agreement with countries that have expertise on the peaceful use of the outer space. For instance, in July 2017, it signed a memorandum of understanding with Romania, which possesses such expertise, and, geopolitically, it falls along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative”.

Prunariu  says that he felt from the beginning China’s huge potential in Space: “When I was still the president of the Association of Space Explorers,  I personally insisted to have Chinese astronauts become members of ASE  and to hold the ASE congress in Beijing in 2014, to start getting to know each other better. The first Chinese astronaut, Yang Liwei, was elected as a member of ASE Board. Time showed indeed that China is promoting Space activities it is and open to develop Space projects as well as advanced technology and science, with the purpose to ensure national security and to gain its place, prestige and recognition on the global stage, as a strong space-faring nation with a high level of technology”.

The Chinese Manned Space Agency hopes for broadened collaboration with other countries and international organizations under the framework of the agreement, on the principle of peaceful uses of outer space, equality and mutual benefit, and joint development.

The Chinese space station, named Tiangong 3 (meaning “Heavenly Palace 3” in Chinese), is currently under development and is expected to be operational around 2022. The station has advanced technology and multi-purpose on-board facilities that provides approirate conditions for the UN member states to conduct microgravity experiments on physics, biology, and life science as well as Earth observation.

Little chance stands the Space cooperation between China and the US for the moment.

In 2011, congressman Frank Wolf inserted a clause into the US expenditure law bill that forbids NASA or OSTP (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) to use federal funds “to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company.”

Jeffrey Manber, CEO of NANORACKS, a private commercial company that provides hardware for the International Space Station, found a “private” way to have China cooperate with the international space station: “The Canadians, Russians and Americans would have worked with the Chinese on the ISS but this law forbids it. When we started to work, we felt this amendment does not apply to us because we are a commercial company, we are not using tax-payers’ money.  We have customers from 30 nations who pay us for services. We went to Obama administration and asked to engage the Chinese, and they gave us permission. Charles Bolden, administrator of NASA at the same, wrote a letter to the Congress saying this complies with the Wolf amendment, NASA was not involved, no technology transfer…. We worked with Beijing Institute of Technology which became the first Chinese entity to conduct experiments on board of the ISS, and they did a successful project on the DNA, they found abnormalities in the DNA after exposure in Space and, if this is true, maybe we cannot set out on a journey to Mars!  Even those who for the Wolf amendment showed various degrees on enthusiasm for our project”.

The Beijing Institute of Technology was one of the organizers of the 21st IAA Humans in Space Symposium in Shenzhen.  A symposium that confirmed that China is gradually achieving excellence in its Space programs and it substantiates its capabilities to implement outstanding Space projects with every occasion.

The Chinese geographic “fence”

East and southeast Asia

East and southeast Asia

Following a long historical experience, beginning with the Persian Empire, the Roman Empire and ending with the British and American Empire, the requirements for becoming a global superpower have gradually become entrenched in the minds of the ruling elites, including in that of China’s. Economic capabilities, political conditions and military strength have their importance of course, but they do not necessarily guarantee that a state will become a superpower. A state can be an industrial powerhouse or it can poses immense military power, like Germany and Japan did at the start of the Second World War. But were they global superpowers? Certainly not and only through their alliance were they able to influence events on a global scale. Time and again, history has shown that countries with more efficient armies, administrations and economies can be surpassed by states far less advanced in either – or in all – of those branches, but with more favorable geography. Germany and Russia are perhaps the best examples in this sense. Nowadays, China finds itself in a similar situation as Germany did. In its case, the geography of the East and Southeast Asia is very much disadvantageous, factor which will delay the realization of its global ambitions for years, if not decades.

The 19th century concept of sea power forwarded by Alfred Thayer Mahan’s, while not a novelty at the time of its appearance has been proven time and again to be correct and China makes no exception to the rule. Control of the seas allows power projection at a global level and in this case we’re talking about hard power. It took more than 100 years of successive humiliations at the hands of the European Great Powers, Imperial Japan and the Americans for the Chinese to understand that. Out of the necessity of ensuring its own security and its trade lanes, the Chinese are forced to embark on the road of becoming a global player, just like the British and the Americans before them. On this, the very survival of the Party could depend because in the end, the sustainability of its economy depends on foreign resources, particularly those from Africa and the Middle East. For the moment, the Chinese trade lines are not protected by Chinese ships, but by American ships, which only deepens China’s dependency on the U.S. There are many reasons for this situation, such as for example the lack of a global system of alliances, or the inability to project hard power anywhere on the globe, or the very configuration of its navy, whose ships are designed and built for defense of the mainland, rather than to carry out deep-sea, long-range operations. All those are intertwined of course and they derive from each other. But they also derive from geography. And in China’s case, two geographical conditions are absolutely imperative if it wants to become a global player: securing its own backyard – namely the East China Sea and South China Sea – and obtaining a secure opening to the Pacific Ocean. Naturally, the Party knows this and its aggressiveness in these areas reflects this situational awareness.

The safeguarding its own periphery is the fundamental precondition for achieving the opening to the Pacific Ocean. Without it, the American fleet and those of its allies will always be able to put on pressure directly on the Chinese ports themselves, at any given time, particularly since the bulk of the Chinese naval forces are concentrated in only three ports: Qingdao in the Yellow Sea, Dinghai in the East China Sea and Zhang Jiang in the South China Sea.

A safe opening to the Pacific Ocean would be the second step in its road of becoming a global player. However, Japan’s experience prior and during World War II proved that it alone is not sufficient, but only a start. China needs it in order to ensure the safety of its coastline, in order to consolidate its position regionally and ultimately to draft a global system of alliances, which in turn could take decades to achieve. But as stated above, there is one major impediment standing in the way of this objective: geography.

 

The geographic “fence”

The manner in which the islands in the East and South China seas are positioned form a veritable barrier which blocks any possible exit into the Pacific Ocean, in all directions. This barrier is composed of the Philippines archipelago, Sumatra, Java, Indochina, Borneo, Taiwan, the Japanese archipelago and a series of smaller islands, such as the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, the Ryukyu Islands, the Xisha/Paracel Islands, the Pratas Island and the Nansha/Spratly Island. Some of these islands are close to one another or with the mainland, forming veritable choke-points which prevent Chinese military vessels from leaving its proximity to the Pacific undetected.

Similarly, the Tsushima Strait, which stands between South Korea and Japan, blocks China’s access to the Sea of Japan, while the Luzon Strait, standing between Taiwan and Luzon Island, blocksthe exit to the Pacific Ocean from the South China Sea. Moreover, the Ryukyu Islands block the exit to the Pacific from the East China Sea. Further South, the strategic problem is even bigger because the high density of islands and the large size of some of them – e.g. Java or Sumatra – limit the space for maneuver significantly. Obviously, the islands in themselves provide little block, but to the geographical impediment we must add the military one, namely the fleets of the countries in the region and more importantly, the U.S. seventh fleet.

Thus, in a scenario of a Chinese fleet attempting to pass through one of these choke-points on an East-West direction, one would have to take into account the likelihood of coming face-to-face with the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the Japanese fleet and quite possibly the ships of the various countries in the region that are hostile or mistrustful of China. Needless to say, it would be a hard nut to crack for a fleet comprised mainly of small and medium-sized ships, with a technology inferior to that of Japan and the U.S.

 

Conclusion

The Chinese “fence” will, for the foreseeable future, prevent China from securing its trade lanes, its proximity, from obtaining a safe corridor to the Pacific Ocean and ultimately from seriously challenging the regional status quo. It will be able to do that, but only in certain limits, which will be both self-imposed, as well as forcefully imposed by outside powers, which will take advantage of geography.  And while the outside powers will try to keep China contained, the Chinese will try to go out, thus increasingly turning the East China Sea and the Korean Peninsula into battlegrounds between China and Japan and the South China Sea into a battleground between China and the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

This doesn’t mean China will go to war with the U.S. or with any of its allies in search for space, but rather that the current state of facts effectively prevents China from becoming a naval threat to begin with, by making it clear that if such a space is searched for, it may lead to conflict, in one form or another.

China’s new ADIZ: a stronger shield makes neighbors angry

China ADIZThe tense relations between China and Japan are well-known nowadays. However, last month animosities increased when China expanded its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), overlapping the ADIZ of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In addition, the new ADIZ encompasses the long disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea and as if all this was not enough, China’s Foreign Ministry has indicated plans to establish a second ADIZ over the South China Sea.

An Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is an area that expands beyond a country’s airspace which is 12 nautical miles from its coastline and has the purpose to give its military the necessary time to respond to potentially menacing foreign aircraft. In other words, the ADIZ is a buffer zone outside a country’s sovereign airspace that requires any foreign aircraft to identify itself, to file flight plans and follow strict instructions from their authorities on entering the ADIZ. Yet, the ADIZ is not something regulated by the international law or by any international organization. Therefore, every country can apply its own rules in defining the ADIZ and can declare it unilaterally.

What caused the already volatile relations with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to worsen was not so much the extension of the ADIZ itself, as it was China’s attitude when it took this initiative. In contrast to other countries such as Canada, India, Japan, Norway and the United States, China requires the identification of military as well as civil aircraft.

On one hand, the Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesman, Yang Yujun, tried to reassure its neighbors, stating that “the purpose of the East China Sea ADIZ is to safeguard territorial and airspace security” and that it “does not mean the expansion of territorial airspace”. On the other hand, China is firm on its decision regarding the new ADIZ and “will take measures to deal with diverse air threats to firmly protect the security of the country’s airspace”, according to China’s state news agency, Xinhua.

Why has China extended the ADIZ?

According to The Economist, China’s initiative to expand its air defense zone “came out of a clear blue sky”. Other publications suggest that it was driven by its growing economic power or that it is part of a strategy to exert control over international waters.

Whatever the reason may be, China’s move created quite a stir among its neighbors. Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed his concern towards the change of the status quo in the East China Sea. Furthermore, Japan is not willing to recognize de Chinese ADIZ since it encompasses the long-disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. Regarding South Korea, the nation’s defense ministry spokesman, Kim Min-Seok, said that the expansion of China’s ADIZ overlaps with Korea’s jurisdiction in Ieodo, also known as the Socotra Rock, the submerged rock disputed by both China and South Korea. As for Taiwan, it seems to be completely marginalized and its call for ownership over the same Diaoyu/Senkaku islands has been ignored by China and Japan.

The U.S.A., acting as the main ally of Japan in the region, does not comply with China’s requirements after the reconfiguration of its air defense zone. They sent two B-52 unarmed bombers over the Senkaku islands on November 26th, on what was claimed to be a regular exercise, thus without filing flight plans or registering their radio frequencies. “These flights are consistent with long standing and well known U.S.A. freedom of navigation policies.” Pentagon Colonel Steve Warren said.

Senkaku

The background of the disputed islands in the East China Sea

The new ADIZ announced by China on 23rd of November reopens the dispute over a group of uninhabited islands known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, the Diaoyu in China, and Tiaoyutai Islands in Taiwan.

The first claims of ownership over the Senkaku islands date back in the 19th century, when Japanese used to survey the islands and found them to be Terra nullius (land belonging to no one).  Thus, Japan has held the Senkaku islands since 1895.

The islands came under the American government occupation in 1945, after the surrender of Japan ended World War II. In 1972, the islands were returned to Japanese control, since the Okinawa Reversion Treaty passed the U.S.A. Senate a year before. At this point, the Taiwanese and Chinese governments officially declared ownership of the islands. China and Taiwan argue that documentary evidence prior to the First Sino-Japanese war in 1894 indicates Chinese possession and that the territory is a Japanese seizure that should be returned to China. However, in September 2012, the Japanese government purchased three of the disputed islands from their ‘private owner’ prompting for large-scale protests in China.

Although the United States does not have an official position on the merits of the competing sovereignty claims, the islands are included within the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, meaning that a defense of the islands by Japan would require the United States to come to Japan’s aid.

A pertinent opinion on which country is more legitimate to require ownership over the East China Sea Islands was expressed by Robert Daly, Director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States. He stated that “what is clear is that this conflict will not be solved based on historical or legal arguments.” He also added that “sovereignty will be worked out through future actions and attitudes, not by appeals to the past.”

CHina, Japan ADIZ

The geopolitical consequences of China’s move

Some voices like the United States’ Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, argue that China’s move was a “destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region.”

Others, like Richard Bush, director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies, go further evaluating the chances of armed conflict between China and Japan in his book, “The Perils of Proximity: China-Japan Security Relations“. He emphasized the idea that it is incumbent on China, Japan and the Unites States to take steps to reduce the odds of clash and conflict in the East China Sea.

In spite of the high tension created by China, it seems that South Korea’s reaction of expanding its own ADIZ actually managed to bring some balance in the region. On 8th of December, South Korea announced that it is expanding its 62 year-old air defense identification zone which will cover the submerged Socotra rocks and will overlap with the ADIZs of both China and Japan. While it is true that, unlike China, South Korea announced upfront its neighbors of the intentions to expand the ADIZ, the move caught China off guard. Chinese authorities could simply not refuse Korea’s own right to expand its ADIZ.

Latest news inform about the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s intentions of creating a second air defense identification zone over the South China Sea. Such a move will definitely increase tensions and might be destabilizing to the region, as it will be perceived as provocative and aggressive by other claimant states. Debates have already started on whether the unilateral ADIZ over disputed islands in the South China Sea violates the spirit of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC-SCS).

An interfaced geopolitical approach to ”The Age of the Arctic”

arctic-ocean-mapThe following paper discuss the importance of the Artic region as an emergent subject in geopolitical matters. One cannot assess the full impact and stakes of these topic, until he dwells with  the understanding of past interactions and present trends. The future projection remains hard to predict even for experts.

                Nationhood, Foreign Policy and international development witnesses a new reshaping in world tendencies. The meaning of The Artic Age brings to our attention an emerging hot subject, which stems far back in the shrouds of history.

                Thus the history of the human exploration of the Far North is above all an account of heroic deeds pushed forward by an unsettled sense of exploration which for centuries fostered the determination to strive. Indeed those heroic voyages driven first hand by the singlessness of purpuose, left mankind considerable geographical discoveries accompanied by myths. First accounts of High North reaching are attributed to vikings, which believed the area beyond their home waters as the realm of death gods and their kingdom, everlasting polar nights and unhospitable living grounds.

                 It has been long valued by travelers, explorers and traders. As the ice cap gradually melts, it reveals the true prize and potential. Formerly block by the kingdom of ice, new offshore oil fields and shipping routes are awaiting an expansion standing ready for grasping, but the persistent issue is who is entitled with the sovereign right to possess and exploit them. hese legacy weighs heavier as stakes are nowadays rising.

                The Arctic circle a unnatural border encompassing a huge surface of the Earth beyond the nordic latitudine of 66 degrees and 33 minutes and is home to a vast quantity of resources. Recent estimated shows that the Arctic basin quarters around 22% of untapped energy reserves.

                When talking about this subject, one keeps in mind the nuclear powered ice breakers or the specialized arctic patrol vessels, the annual flow of goods shipped and the striking features such as plumeting temperatures and harsh weather conditions

                An outstanding episode which in everybody’s perception arose questions, remains the day of 2nd  August 2007 when two russian submarines planted a titanium flag on the north pole seabed, simbolicaly claiming the Arctic for Russia. It triggered immediately the criticism, attention of the other major polar states and the international community, as why so emphasized  interest for the peripherical area.

                The geopolitics of the Arctic are being characterise by the issues at stake: clashes of claims or cooperation acts can take place simultaneously, regardless that it is binding allies or rivals. Likewise, in the contest of asserting specified claims, all actors have undertaken serious approaches, either emerging states or developed economies,  both large and small circumpolar countries, partly or entirely situated in the arctic circle.

                Shortly put, the Arctic which borders 8 states, is emerging on the global set as a defined hot spot, compared to the well known unexplored and frigid desert from the past, just before the begining of the Cold War. So, in the virtue of the arising issues and transfigurative properties the reality is displaying, the Artic is manifesting itself as a regional entity with a never more emphasized identity as never. Nevertheless, the extent to which this identity will reach, remains  a question for the time being.

                Historically the Arctic was not subject to violent territorial conquest. Until the modern period, it was a playing ground for fishing and exploring ships, tracing back from the sailing age.  It’s significance remains well portrayed during the Cold War and delimited as a buffer zone or no man’s land  in the hegemonic conflict and containment strategies between the two superpowers of that period. It served as a strategic arena for developing military activities, and from this point of view, is a turning point in history, when the role of the artic switches from a frozen wasteland to a secondary operation’s theatre. Given it’s strategic location the vastness of the Artic triggered a military competition, regarding the  fact that the High North divided Nato adn the Warsaw Treaty Organization.

                Thus constant surveillance and deployment was ensured by submarine missions, patrolling and foreseeing a naval warfare. Moreover, USSR militarization of the Barents Sea dictated the rithm of issue handling for Nato serving as a  base for early warnings against threats. Long ranged balistics were developed, as well as long range bombers backed up by improved radar systems. The Russian Northern Fleet, located in Murmansk, approximately 100 miles from a Natto ally offered the prerequisites to be regarded as at least an auxiliary region, through which rivals can train one over the other the more advanced military capabilities.

                Another historicall moment remains Gorbachev’s speech in Murmansk in October 1987. The speech consequently led to the establishment of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) in 1991 and also was a foothhold in binding regional cooperation. Gorbachev called for cutting the volume of military activities and creating a nuclear-free zone in Northern Europe, coordonation and building lucrative ways of exploiting the arctic in economic, enviromental and scientific manners, and to grant access to foreing vessels to use the Northern passage.

                A Cold War scenario has few chances to reappear in the present time. Another sillent war-prospective enterprises, done by submerged submarines and threatening long rage ballistics conveying military strategies, was replaced nowadays with skillful diplomatic initiatives coupled with scientific endeavours to prove that the continental shelf is an extension of their country.

                 As foreign policies matured and evolved,circumpolar countries began to aim for more intensified implications for the future. The fundamental issue remains the sovereinghty claims.

                 As revealed by the Cold War, threats and security issues were considered only the ones with a military background, orbiting around the supremacy of nuclear capabilities . It marked an exclusive bipolar zone. The concept of security, broadened itself with the collapse of the soviet union.

                 The international system rappidly emerged towards a unilateral system in which USA has clearly shaped the landscape of geopolitical matters. Shortly after, not until the triggering of the world economic crisis, the international system is experiencing a new transition period. Corelated with the age of globalisation a multipolar system is emerging, which may in the future fragment the international system to an extent, that it may become a non polar system with it’s own set of insecurity and risks.

                Nowadays security is reshaping itself, and has to do more with economical aspects, rather than military ones. Both developing and developed countries, engaged in the most expressing economic affairs such as industrial output and commercial exchange.  It approaches the engine of this value chain, mainly the energy resources needed in order to   sustain oneself. As the volume of energy resources decrease, the main reseves are becoming either exchange coins for some or coercitive tools for others.

                A rush for an Arctic conquest spurs before all a set of sovereingty claims regardings its head actors. The main drivers would surely be the economical and political factors. In triggering such deeds of development, it would be done so by transnational companies backed up by governments. The ongoing energy mix on the market portrays the increasing demand of fuel consumption. Symply stated power and security coeficint are assessed by availability of energy supplies.

                Energy companies prospective are looking to invest in exploration and exploitation in high latitude regions as a reaction to a volatile enviroment in the gas and oil market. Middle East suppliers on the other hand, are becoming more instable.

                Such matters are always reflecting different reasons. Circumpolar countries are  also aiming to secure social policies in their remote artic provinces. Intra-Artic shipping and extraction will intensify itself as the premise of economical development and market demands, more likely in North American zone where it share a common coast with the Arctic. Security management will be highly regarded as priorty, as an effort to address the issue in remote and hard climate terrain.

                Taken into consideration the above mentioned, the geopolitics of the arctic are compiled from a complex mosaic of interactions and issues of vast arrays.  Some preliminary remarks derives:

                 Russia, Norway, USA, Canada and Denmark are the five rim states which have the Artic region as top priority on their security agenda.

                Russia is geographically the biggest stake holder in the region. Despite the 2007 act of flag planting on the north pole seabed, the border agreement with norway suggests that russia sought a peacefully resolution with its arctic neighbour.

                Norway’s interests in the Arctic and so far the country’s involvment in these matters, points out the traditional approach and the old and close ties with the region as part of the cultural norvegian life. Norway has proved a resilient agent and a gateway in fostering bilateral relations between NATO or the West and Russia on the other side, treasuring the full advantage and the premise of  promoting national interests amids clashes of global entities.

                For centruries the concept of terra nullius prevailled when acquiering new territories.  In meant that, the respective claimer could become the entitled owner when exerciting full control and jurisdiction of the land after the initial discovery, either inhabited or not and without any other previous occupation by another european monarchy.

                Around the turn of the 20th century, the Arctic began to be subject of political division. A historical reference in the implementation of a legal framework as a subject of the international law is the Spitzbergen Treaty from 1920, which in the aftermath of the agreements, Norway had been granted the sovereignty of the archipelago with  special regime, yielding in a  demilitarization and neutralization of the zone towards a peaceful cooperation and free usage of surrounding water in scientific or commercial reasons.

                In the wake of the sharp concept of  international waters, raised awareness of the offshore resources has layed claim to numerous seabed territorial requests, which in turn impelled the need of a adecquate legal framework to prevent conflicts. As a resut the third UN conference from 1973  UNCLOS brought to an end in 1982,  is the most appealing constitution of the seas so far and reaches the most sensitive aspects, which the international community tried to regulate and hence deals with the interfaced sea exploitation like: navigational rights and passage through straits, territorial sea limits, management and status of seabed resources, conservation and protection of maritime enviroment. UNCLOS also stands as the current legal frame for the Arctic region.

                In 1996, a Canadian propelled  intergovernmental platform was promoted as the main body for cooperation and issue solving discussions. Altough not having a regulatiory role, it involves maintaning a cooperative approach to the area development in matters such as environmental economical and social. The main merit is that it has managed to ensure a transparent and friendly display of  claims and also cooperation actions such as joint-enterprises  and morevore to promote the Arctic on the global stage.

                In this respect we can consider that UN resolutions regarding the High North were not able to cover the necessities and to handle claims toa full extent. Regardless the outcome, the region has the potential of  becoming a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

                In the course of the raised profile of the Arctic, we can bring to attention some of the risen territorial disputes:

a). First case is between Russia and Norway, which after a 40 years spanned boundary dispute in a demarked Exclusive economic zone  between Spittzbergen(Svalbard) and the russian islands of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef had ended with a mutual advantage for both parties.

b). Another major case would be the Maritime Boundry Agreement signed between Russian and USA in 1990, regarding their borders in the Bering Sea, Arctic Ocean and Pacific Ocean over a disputed area.

c). The Beaufort Sea and Northwest Passage issues between Canada and USA-due to hidrocarbur pockets, respecttively shipping right reasons, in which  the US questions the fairness of the canadian territorial claims

                Arctic governance has become a subject, on which the international system is paying more attention. Other non Arctic states or entities are seeking closer ties with the Council in order to become permanent observers and to exert a fair amount of influence in the arhitecture of Arctic governance. By far the most important would be the European Union and China. The EU has established links and shares a significant amount of interest by providing support in scientific research over the region. More than two thirds from the Norvegian Oil and Gas Output targets the EU, and about the same ponder of the fishing industry catch done by Norway and Iceland is being absorbed into the common european market. The acceptance of the EU application was spotlighted at the last Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in Sweden on May 2013.

                Several researcher are maintaining that ”the riches of the Arctic will not feature in China’s future economic calculations”, or at least not to a great extent. The real reason might be related to geopolitical conceptions. Entitled to be considered a future word super-power, China was involved in several games along South America, Africa and Europe, where it wants to secure it’s economic interests and built the capacity as an immovable challenger for the US in all aspects. Strategic partnerships in these areas consists as the driving force in chinese foreign affairs.

                The Pacific, Indian and Arctic are on the agenda of Chinese expansion. China’s last five-year plan focus  on the perspective of interaction regarding marine surveying and mapping, along with arctic research. Noteworthy to keep in mind that along with other BRIC members, it is one of the most biggest consuming energy and mineral markets in the global supply chain.

                Another veritable reason for Chinese active implication in Arctic geopolitics will also be the potential shipping routes, which approaches China to the point, that it would dilate and ameliorate the Mallaca Strait issue, offering an appealing and a feasable alternative to the maritime traffic security which it maintains in commercial activities with EU.  Above all it will shortern the distance and reduce the costs of time and fuel, and also will tackle the risks poses by piracy and moreover rivalry with US and India in Pacific and Indian Ocean, which already established economic and military strongholds, as a possible containment strategy, adding more presion in the geopolitical game of China and US.

                In conclusion the gradual amassment of issues, facing claims and disputes solving  provides the clear fact, that a  new framework needs designed through the improvement of the previous one. The speed to which the arctic ice is melting, rushes the questin to whom belongs to right to claim the resuources and to master this strategic ”link” between Eurasia and America .