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Denmark welcomes China’s Arctic role
February 18, 2014, 6:31 am

China and India can now sit in on meetings at the Arctic Council without voting [Image: Arctic Council]

China and India can now sit in on meetings at the Arctic Council without voting [Image: Arctic Council]

Although China is not an Arctic country, Beijing is increasingly seeking a more pivotal role in the affairs of the resource-rich region.

Greenland on Monday said it wants Chinese partnership in becoming a “mining nation”.

Greenland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Kai Holst Andersen said they are in talks with two Chinese companies about mining cooperation in Greenland, including a copper company in Jiangxi province.

“If this cooperation can succeed, that could be an example for other Chinese companies that want to cooperate with Greenland,” Andersen said.

“We are not a mining nation today. But we are definitely a mining nation of the future,” added Anderson.

Greenland, part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is the world’s largest island. Formerly a province of Denmark, it gained the status of an autonomous Danish dependent territory with limited self-government as well as its own parliament in 1979.

Meanwhile, Denmark on Monday said it welcomes China being more involved in the Arctic, especially in sectors such as “mining, fishing and sea route development”.

The US geological Survey in 2008 said the Arctic Circle has an estimated 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil, 1,670 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of recoverable natural gas liquids.

China, the world’s largest energy importer, should advantage of new Arctic opportunities, said Denmark’s Ambassador to the Arctic Erik Vilstrup Lorenzen.

Lorenzen and Andersen made the comments in an interview to China Daily in Beijing on Monday.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry last week said the Arctic has enormous national security implications for the US.

“For a long time now, I’ve shared the view that the Arctic region really is the last global frontier, and the United States needs to elevate our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences presented by the Arctic’s rapid transformation,” Kerry was quoted as saying in letters written to two US senators in Alaska by US media reports.

The US will assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015. The US has held interests in the Arctic since it bought Alaska from Russia in 1867.

Meanwhile, the Greenlandic Minister said on Monday that 90 per cent of Greenland’s exports are seafood products and China’s huge market is very important for the island.

China and Denmark should also cooperate in scientific research in the Arctic such as the study of ice sheets, Anderson added.

China has one research station in the Arctic, the Yellow River Station and a Polar Research Institute in Shanghai to train scientists in Arctic research. In 2015, China will launch three research expeditions to the Arctic.

“China and Denmark can work together to explore new sea routes,” said Lorenzen, who is in charge of the country’s Arctic policies and affairs.

China and India were granted observer status in the Arctic council after an announcement at a ministerial meeting in Sweden last year.

China and India can now sit in on meetings at the Arctic Council without voting. The Arctic Circle has been looking to incorporate more inclusive debate about the future of the Arctic region.

At present, only the eight countries of the Arctic Council have a say in setting policy in the region – America, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Iceland.

The Arctic is expected to become ice-free in coming decades as temperatures there rise twice as fast as in the rest of the world, which has led to a major push by oil and mining companies to drill in Arctic waters, and by Asian countries hoping to cut shipping routes.


TBP and Agencies