The significant changes taking place in the Arctic are attracting worldwide attention, often to the discomfort of Arctic states and peoples. This is no better demonstrated than by the East Asian states’ growing interest in Arctic issues. All three major East Asian states — China, Japan and South Korea — bid for Arctic Council membership in 2009 and all have active polar research programs, but their interest has met with concern in several quarters. This policy brief suggest that the Arctic Council’s member states should welcome East Asian states as observers to enmesh them into “Arctic” ways of thinking.
P. Whitney Lackenbauer is associate professor and chair of the department of history at St. Jerome’s University (University of Waterloo). An expert in Arctic sovereignty and modern Canadian military, diplomatic and political history, he is currently leading a collaborative research project on the internationalization of the Arctic Council.