China granted observer status in Arctic Council

Updated: 2013-05-15 18:45

(China Daily)

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KIRUNA, Sweden - China, together with five other states, has been granted observer status in the Arctic Council on Wednesday.

China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore were granted new Observer States status at the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council convened in Kiruna, the northernmost city of Sweden.

Gao Feng, head of China's delegation to the event, told Xinhua that the long-awaited observer status of China is a "right and wise" decision, and it would be constructive for future international cooperation on the Arctic issues.

"China will first get to know the Arctic better, and then it is able to join effectively international cooperation," said Gao.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, the current chair of the Council, said the Arctic Council welcomed the six nations' observer status.

The meeting also witnessed the signing of Kiruna Declearation, which recognized "the importance of maintaining peace, stability and constructive cooperation in the Arctic," and "the importance of the sustainable use of resources, economic development and environmental protection."

The Declaration also reiterated the urgent need for increased national and global actions to "mitigate and adapt to climate change."

Approximately 230 people, including ministers, delegates from the eight Arctic states, representatives of indigenous peoples, scientists and observers, participated in this event, which marks the end of the two-year Swedish chairmanship and the beginning of the Canadian chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

The Arctic Council, founded about 20 years ago, includes eight Arctic countries, namely Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.