China has observer status in the Arctic Council.
The United States calls on China to comply with its obligations regarding the Arctic, especially in the field of environmental protection. This was stated by acting Assistant Secretary of State Marcia Bernicat during a special telephone briefing for journalists on the participation of the head of the US Foreign Ministry Antony Blinken in the ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council (AC) on May 20 in Reykjavik.
Bernicat was asked about the role of China, which has observer status in the council. “In general, we call on China to play a responsible role in world affairs, uphold international standards of transparency, rule of law, accountability, and fulfill its legitimate obligations,” she said. “We call on Beijing to be committed to all its promises and commitments, especially regarding responsible environmental protection in the Arctic.”
“Only eight AC countries make decisions on the management of the region based on consensus. Observers can participate [in the process], contribute to efforts aimed at < … > development and research of the region. But observers do not play a role in the governance of the council or the region,” the State Department spokeswoman said. At the meeting in Reykjavik, the AC presidency for the period 2021-2023 will pass from Iceland to Russia. The AC consists of Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States, Finland, and Sweden. 12 non-Arctic countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, India, China, and France, have observer status in the Council.