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The global mean temperature is increasing due to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but paradoxically, many regions in the mid-latitudes have experienced cold winters recently. Here we analyse multiple observed and modelled datasets to evaluate links between Arctic temperature variation and cold damage in the East Asian terrestrial ecosystem. We find that winter warming over the Barents-Kara Sea has led to simultaneous negative temperature anomalies over most areas in East Asia and negative leaf area index anomalies in southern China where mostly subtropical evergreen forests are growing. In addition to these simultaneous impacts, spring vegetation activity and gross primary productivity were also reduced over evergreen and deciduous trees, and spring phenological dates are delayed. Earth System model simulations reveal that cold damage becomes stronger under greenhouse warming; therefore Arctic warming-induced cold stress should be considered in forest and carbon management strategies.