The U.S. Senate voted on December 16, 2019 to approve a $ 738 billion defense bill. The National Defense Expenditures Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020 included for the first time a section on China’s report on foreign direct investment in the Arctic region. This was a testament to US growing concern about the “Chinese threat” in the Arctic.
NDAA Section 1260E contains broad requirements covering projects that are “directly or indirectly financed by public and private Chinese organizations,” including public and financial infrastructure, energy, real estate, shipbuilding, and telecommunications. The study should include an analysis of Chinese FDI carried out in the USA, Russia, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Iceland, with an assessment of the effectiveness and transparency of the criteria of these countries, monitoring methods and public reporting. In addition, the bill also requires an analysis of China’s strategic objectives in the Arctic region from a military, economic, territorial and political point of view in order to have a common model of understanding how China is increasing its influence in the region.
The leitmotif of American policy in the Arctic is to maintain its leadership and position as a legislator, preventing China and Russia, its long-term competitors, from exerting influence in the region. This position has been repeatedly voiced over the past year, and the NDAA for fiscal year 2020 is actually the beginning of the implementation of the relevant US policy.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former National Security Advisor John Bolton have publicly accused China of being in the Arctic region. They condemned Beijing for using “debt diplomacy” with investments in the countries of the region and called for China to be deprived of the status of the Arctic state. However, as it turned out, the US intention to create tension through slander and exclusion of its main competitors in the Arctic did not work, but had the opposite effect.
Following an “independent study” of Chinese FDI in the countries of the Arctic region, the US Department of Defense will inevitably take measures to comprehensively reject and contain Chinese projects. There are two things worth noting.
Having compiled a general picture of China’s activities in this region, the United States can change its strategy from attacks like “kill the mole” to a comprehensive and systematic siege. China’s economic cooperation projects with Iceland and Greenland, the development of new shipping routes, and the development of civil and military infrastructure will be the main projects that the United States will try to prevent.
At the same time, Washington may call for the development of rules for economic activity and cooperation in the Arctic region with a monitoring and censorship mechanism to establish a systemic threshold for the economic activities of non-Arctic countries. In addition to the “invisible wall” of environmental protection and Aboriginal rights that will be raised, the US will also require other countries to be “extremely transparent” and comply with rules that restrict these countries’ rights and give them responsibilities.
The Arctic region is experiencing an important historical turning point, facing various new management challenges that relate to the sustainable development of human society and the ocean. All countries should seize the opportunity to uphold equality and respect and abandon pride and prejudice in order to promote pragmatic cooperation and guarantee peace and stability in the region.
China is an almost arctic country. China participates in the affairs of the region on the basis of an inclusive, cooperative and mutually beneficial approach. This is not the politeness of the Arctic countries, but the law enshrined in international law, which allows China to take part in regional affairs. China’s deepening cooperation with countries in the region is not a threat to the Arctic region. Rather, it is a mutually beneficial combination of the development needs of these countries and the power of China in the production sense.
This is evidenced by the Ice Silk Road proposed by China, which was met with approval and brought great success. However, the United States groundlessly criticized China’s cooperation projects in the Arctic region. This step of the USA contradicts the call of the Arctic countries for peace, stability and development, and it is not surprising that he turned against them.
Chen Jinan, Global Times