China's Liftoff: Satellites as Enabling Technology in Global Governance
Mia Bennett (University of Washington)
China has expanded its scientific capabilities in the Arctic with research stations and icebreakers. Yet little attention has been paid to the country’s growing remote sensing capabilities. China launched its first polar observing satellite in 2019. Next year, it will launch SAR satellites to monitor Arctic shipping. While these satellites allow Beijing to gather information about a distant region, they also constitute a technology permitting it to participate in this critical region’s emerging governance. As remote sensing and computationally-intensive techniques become preferred decision-making tools within global governance, and as China becomes a key producer of valuable satellite data, its ability to intervene in the region is likely to grow. This paper will examine the origins and implications of this historical shift in Arctic governance.
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