The advance of the Chinese regime in the Arctic poses a growing concern in the United States because it could represent a serious threat in the region.
For Fiscal Year 2020, President Donald Trump issued a directive to examine and monitor “Chinese military activities in the Arctic, as well as Chinese foreign direct investment in the Arctic.”
“The administration in Washington is right to be concerned about China’s increasing interest in the northern polar region,” Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin notes. Franklin, who was the Iran Desk Officer in the Office of the Secretary of the Defense under Donald Rumsfeld.
The advance of the Chinese regime
Two years ago, Beijing published a White Paper outlining its Arctic policy, which includes the creation of a Polar Silk Road.
The Chinese Navy has two polar ice-breaking research ships in the area. The Xuelong and Xuelong II are responsible for carrying out the regime’s 36th scientific expedition in Antarctic waters. The crews will also help complete China’s fifth Antarctic scientific station for data collection and under-ice deployment.
The Ministry of Defense and the State Council of China have already expressed their intention to carry out a strong maritime program, including a Freedom of Navigation mission in the Bering Sea, planned for this year.
If these policies are fully implemented, they will challenge the United States and Russia for primacy in the region, Franklin said in a column on the Gatestone Institute website.
“Civilian research could support a strengthened Chinese military presence in the Arctic Ocean, which could include deploying submarines to the region as a deterrent against nuclear attacks,” the Pentagon said in March last year.
What it seeks
Underneath the Arctic glaciers are large amounts of coal and natural gas.
But in reality Bejing is looking for deposits of rare earth materials, such as praseodymium, yttrium and lanthanum. These are used in lasers, magnets, semiconductors, special glass, ceramics, and nuclear batteries.
Franklin claims that China already controls the mining and extraction of most of the world’s rare earth materials and may even be in talks with Afghanistan, as the Islamic country has one of the largest deposits of these materials, according to an NBC report.
Rare earth materials are also found under Greenland’s ice, and that is why Washington and Beijing are in a growing dispute over greater influence on the island.
Following its plan to invest in projects that serve the interests of the communist regime, Beijing has tried to close important contracts to build infrastructure on the site: airports, ports, roads and railways, which would allow it to facilitate the transportation of these materials, once excavated, to China.
According to Franklin’s analysis, Beijing’s advance into Greenland could also represent a strategic threat to Canada and a latent risk to the U.S. air base at Thule.
In fact, according to a Pentagon report, European allies such as Denmark have expressed concern over Chinese proposals to establish a research station and satellite ground station in Greenland.
Washington, led by President Trump, offered Copenhagen the financing to construct the airports on Greenland. This proposal was well received by the European country, which is a member of NATO.
The Chinese extension
Other regions in dispute are the Faroe Islands, an autonomous archipelago of 18 Danish islands located between Norway and Iceland.
Beijing has promised to increase its fish imports in exchange for the islanders allowing the installation of a 5G wireless network supplied by the controversial Huawei company.
At the same time, Washington is trying to block the use of Huawei’s equipment on the islands because the technology company has been accused of supplying data to China’s communist regime.
“It is a national security threat,” President Trump said months ago after the U.S. Commerce Department blacklisted the telecommunications company.
Franklin emphasized that although China has just begun its expedition through the Arctic, its eventual alliance with Russia—a great connoisseur of the area—could represent a serious threat to the United States in the region.
“If Moscow works in tandem with Beijing, China could emerge quickly as a potent competitor for influence in the Arctic. Let us hope that Washington is able to prevent this from happening,” Franklin concludes.