Concern about China’s presence in the Arctic

A melting glacier in the Arctic.

A glacier melting on Svalbard, a Norwegian group of islands within the Arctic Circle. Photo: Daniel Foster on Flickr

As global warming is upon us and the ice is melting in both the north and south, water areas in the Arctic which were previously inaccessible are now free to explore. An opportunity China is utilising according to the American news media CNBC.

Meanwhile, the Northatlantic defence alliance, NATO, isn’t too keen on the recent developments. Speaking to CNBC Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the organisation expressed his concerns.

“We need to assess the security consequences, for all of us, of the rising military power of China.”

Therefore, NATO is carefully monitoring China’s presence in the Arctic according to the Norwegian general secretary who also said it appeared that China is coming closer to Europe.

“And, of course, we need to carefully analyze and understand the security implications of that,” Stoltenberg told CNBC.

Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, also warned about China’s presence in the Arctic earlier this year. At the time he said, China appeared to have national security aims in the region.

arctic circle map

Photo: Rosie Rosenberger on Flickr

But while warning bells are ringing in NATO, China denies all allegations of having military or national security purposes in the cold waters.

The country claims to offer a helping hand in understanding and protecting the Arctic as well as contribute to peace in the region.

The Arctic is managed by the Arctic Council of which China holds and observing status since 2013 along with 12 other nations. The council consists of NATO-members Denmark – including Greenland – Norway, Iceland, Canada and the US. Non-NATO members of the council count Finland, Sweden and Russia.

But while the land of the Arctic Circle is divided among the 8 members, China has previously decribed itself as a “near-arctic state” according to CNBC. Yet, the country’s nearest point is almost 1,500 kilometres away.

At the same time, the member-countries are busy claiming territory. With the melting ice, they are all trying to get a slice of the cake. An arctic cake that holds and estimated 30 percent of the world’s natural gas and 13 percent of its oil reserves. All undiscovered.

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