China Hopes for Peaceful Resolutions With Canada Concerning the Arctic: Ambassador
China hopes to solve “by peaceful means” any disputes with Canada concerning the Arctic, China’s ambassador to Canada told a Montreal audience Wednesday.
Canada is to take over the chair of the Arctic Council in 2013, a body on which China wants observer status.
After a luncheon speech on China-Canada relations, Ambassador Zhang Junsai was asked about China’s views on the Arctic and whether his mandate includes convincing Ottawa to allow China that position.
“I don’t have the talking points on this,” Zhang said, a comment that drew a chuckles from members of the Conseil des Relations Internationales de Montréal audience.
Zhang, whose speech was peppered with amusing asides, then responded to the question raised by an audience member, a specialist in Arctic and northern security issues.
“We hope that this will be solved by peaceful means,” Zhang said.
“I don’t know much about this, but we would like to participate and be observer. We hope that the countries (on the council) would support China’s request.”
In addition to observer status, China hopes to join with Canada to form an Acrtic scientific research team, he said.
Media attending the sold-out event could not ask Zhang to expand on his remarks. His office had cancelled a scheduled press conference, citing time pressures.
Zhang, who was to visit a Bombardier facility Wednesday afternoon, is leaving for China Thursday to prepare for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to the country.
Stéphane Rousssel, the Université du Québec à Montréal professor who had posed the Arctic question, said he was surprised by Zhang’s use of the phrase “peaceful means” twice in his short response.
The vision of the Arctic as a “potential battlefield” is changing, said Roussel, the Canada Research Chair in Canadian Foreign and Defense Policy.
“Some people are still talking in terms of (something akin to an) arms race, in terms of competitions among states.