Old case made public: Finland denies China’s research airbase bid

Shutterstock/ Risto Raunio

Two years ago China wanted to buy an airport in northern Finland, saying it was for climate research at the North Pole. But Finland’s Defense Ministry rejected the offer over security reasons. The matter is now only being made public, reports Euractiv.

In 2018, China’s state-funded Polar Research Institute offered to buy or lease the airport in the town of Kemijärvi in Finnish Lapland and to finance a new runway with renovations worth about €40 million.

The airport would be used to carry out research and observation flights over the Arctic Ocean, the North Pole, and the Northeast Passage but after informing the Finnish Armed Forces, the city of Kemijärvi turned down the offer.

According to the Finnish military, the airport is situated close to their strategically important firing range, so expansion would not have been possible.

Moreover, such a proposal would be unrealistic given EU legislation from October 2020 restricting foreign investments. At the time, the news secretive plan surprised both the University of Lapland and its Arctic Centre who had previously collaborated with Chinese researchers.

China currently has research centers in the Arctic region in Greenland, Iceland, and the Svalbard archipelago.

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