Assessing China’s Securitization of Arctic Climate Change and Energy

Yue Wang, Liling Xu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


China has been actively involved in Arctic affairs, facing both opportunities and challenges brought by accelerated climate change in the Arctic. China also shows increasing security concerns in the Arctic, which is manifested in the incorporation of the polar regions “China’s National Security Law” in 2015 and implied in the extensive connections between China and the Arctic mentioned in “China’s Arctic Policy” in 2018. However, how the Arctic and China’s national security have been connected and circulated in the wider Chinese discourses, and whether China has taken or can take exceptional measures to successfully securitize the Arctic are still unclear. This chapter draws on Copenhagen School’s securitization theory to analyze China’s securitization of Arctic climate change and Arctic energy affairs, which are the most relevant Arctic issues to China and can reflect China’s efforts to address the “Arctic paradox” (De Botselier, López Piqueres, & Schunz, 2018). By examining ‘speech acts’ in Chinese policy documents, political speeches, scholarly publications, media coverages, and Chinese energy enterprises’ press releases and documents, we argue that China’s securitization of Arctic climate change and energy affairs is still shown as ongoing securitizing moves that are far from successful securitization with exceptional measures beyond normal politics. In China’s securitizing moves of Arctic climate change and energy affairs, the securitizing actor (the state) adopts relatively ambiguous discourses linking the Arctic and China’s national security, compared to those of functional actors (Chinese academia, mass media and energy enterprises). We also notice that both threats and potential benefits trigger China’s securitizing moves of Arctic energy affairs, and it seems benefits play a more critical role, which indicates a counterfactual logic. By attending to the role of and interactions among the securitizing actor and the functional actors in China’s securitizing moves of climate change and energy in the Arctic, this chapter attempts to add nuances to China’s efforts in securitizing Arctic affairs and to shed light on the understanding of ‘securitization’ in the Chinese context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecurity and Technology in Arctic Governance
EditorsStefan Kirchner
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherLIT Verlag
Number of pages58
ISBN (Print)9783643914811
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • securitization
  • Arctic
  • China
  • climate change
  • energy security

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