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Andrea Charron on CBC's The House

Russia and China act differently in the Arctic than in the rest of the world, experts say

By Chris Hall, host of The House

Canada is dealing with "two Russias" and "two Chinas" when it comes to the Arctic, according to two researchers. 

Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, says those two nations have very different approaches in the North, versus their abrasive approach to other multilateral world issues. 

Russia, Denmark and Canada are currently jostling to see who gets sovereignty over the North Pole — a decision that will eventually be made by the United Nations. 

While jurisdiction is still in question, Charron says Russia has been very cooperative in working with other nations in the Arctic. 

"We have the Russia that we're very concerned about in Ukraine, we're very concerned about their activities in Syria, poisonings in the United Kingdom. There is a lot to be worried about," she said. 

"But on the other hand when it comes to the Arctic, Russia is going to be essential for search and rescue."

Jennifer Spence, a fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation's Arctic Program, agreed.

Who gets to plant their flag at the top of the world? Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, and Jennifer Spence, a professor of northern studies at Carleton University, talk about what's at stake and Canada's claims to the North Pole. 

She added that China is also looking for partners as it watches the dispute from afar. 

"You'll see you see that China's working very heavily with Russia because they have found that they have a very productive partnership that meets both their goals."

Spence added that kind of cooperation between China and Canada likely isn't possible.

"I'm not sure that will happen as easily in Canada especially with a partner with a close relationship with the United States who has its own concerns with China."

Charron said the same view could be applied to China, as to Russia. 

"We have two Chinas. We have the China that can be cooperative in the Arctic [and] we have this other China whom we're very concerned about the advantage in the Arctic region."

However, no decisions on who claims the top of the world will be made in the immediate future. 

Spence said it's likely going to be 30 to 50 years before any serious conclusion is reached — which could benefit China's political cycle. 

"China has a 100 year plan. We have a four year plan, maybe."