Arthur Guschin wrote on 14 Novemebr 2013 in The Diplomat here that unlike Russia's assertive stance in the Arctic, China, not possessing any direct territorial claims in the region, keeps her head down and builds good relations all around by focussing on scientific, ecological, native-cultural, tourism, and other soft areas of cooperation.
China is quietly edging for a seat in the Arctic Council. To buttress her interests in the Artic, China tries to develop the concept of "near Arctic" countries whose ecological and humanitarian interests would be seriously affected by developments in the Artic.
According to Guschin, now that the Arctic is melting fast, regardless of the impact of Climate Change, the ultimate aim is to develop geopolitically less vulnerable navigation routes for the importation of China's lifeblood of resoruces. Passage along the Norther channles will bypass Amercia-imposed choke points in the East and South China Seas and India Ocean. China's deep pockets will also put her in good stead for mutually-beneficial joint exploitation of the Arctic's cornucopia of resources.
This development tallies with what was presaged in a study by Trausti Valsson (How the world will change with Global Warming, University of Iceland Press, 2006) as reported in my blog on "The Bali Roadmap and the Geopolitics and Geo-economics of Climate Change" dated 18 January, 2008 here.
It now looks that however important in its own right Arctic research cooperation would be for China, it has the distinct adantage of ensuring that China's energy and geopolitical interests in the Artic are smoothened, buttressed and steadily advanced.