Thursday, December 27, 2018

China’s advances in Arctic may pose security threat to Canada

A serious look at what's going on up north.

From The Asia Times, Dec. 26:
Calgary academic believes Beijing will conduct naval operations in the Arctic soon and that China’s next-generation nuclear subs will have 'under-ice' capabilities

China’s growing focus on the Arctic Ocean has drawn the eye of circumpolar nations, including Canada, which lays claim to the waters of the Northwest Passage.

The Canadian government tends to downplay the military threat posed by Beijing, but at the same time has voiced concern about its disrespect for international rules in dealing with territorial disputes in the China seas, and the possibility that it could replicate its intimidatory tactics in the High North.
The Chinese rolled out their Arctic policy last January. The Asian giant considers itself a “near-Arctic” state, and wants a stake in the region’s development as ice melting is creating new business opportunities – a concept reiterated by Gao Feng, China’s special representative for Arctic Affairs, at the Arctic Circle Conference in Seoul on December 8.

Beijing aims to set up the polar leg of its Belt and Road Initiative for better connectivity across Eurasia and beyond. The Chinese are keen to utilize new Arctic sea routes to narrow the distance and cut transport time with Europe for their cargo ships, besides exploiting the region’s natural resources and investing in infrastructure projects.

Canada’s Department of National Defense spokesperson Jessica Lamirande told Asia Times that her country was committed to cooperation with other states in the Arctic, provided they abide by international law, including environmental, navigation and other standards. Against this backdrop, “Canada welcomes continued discussions with China on Arctic issues,” she said.

Arctic militarization
Militarization of the Arctic is becoming reality. Russia is busy reinforcing military positions in its polar territory and will require foreign warships that want to sail through its Arctic waters to give prior notification to the Defense Ministry starting from next year.

The USS Harry S Truman sailed beyond the Arctic Circle in October, the first time a US aircraft carrier has operated in these latitudes since the early 1990s. The warship then joined the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization in Norway for its largest military exercises after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Still, it is worth noting that the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force also includes circumpolar states such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, which are all concerned with Russia’s military build-up in the High North....MUCH MORE