Experts testify that geopolitical competition is intensifying in the Arctic, with China in particular facing more obstacles in its multifaceted efforts to secure resources and gain more influence in the region. As such, Canada needs to comprehensively strengthen its involvement in the Arctic Circle.
Guy Saint Jack, Canada’s ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016, said China has a keen interest in the Arctic as a source of minerals and seafood.
“I would like to emphasize how systematic China was in gaining a supply of important minerals. This is one of the main objectives of the Polar Silk Road Initiative, tagged with the Belt and Road Initiative.” Said Saint-Jacques.
He also said Beijing’s concerns were growing about environmental changes such as rising sea levels and heat waves, as well as its impact on food production and infrastructure. The former ambassador pointed to an area in the heart of the Arctic that was not under the jurisdiction of any state and said he expected Chinese fishing vessels to arrive there soon.
Saint-Jacques and other Chinese and Arctic experts Permanent Senate Committee on National Security and Defense On May 2, Senators will gain a better understanding of Arctic geopolitical competition, with a particular focus on non-Arctic states: China.
“China is on the side of China,” said Mark Lanthein, an associate professor of political science at the University of Tromso in Norway, about China’s “neutral” stance on the Ukrainian conflict.
“China is interested in all the consequences that will benefit its situation economically, politically and strategically.”
Lanteigne explained that China is facing serious economic and social headwinds within the country as many of its imports have been suspended due to the Zero-COVID policy and the Ukraine crisis.
Saint-Jacques also said that when he took office as China’s ambassador in 2012, Beijing was keen to get help to secure its position as an observer in Canada. Arctic Council (AC) — Eight major intergovernmental organizations to promote cooperation in the region — and participate in Canadian military exercises in the north as part of military exchanges.
“I have always urged defense to be very cautious about this. The strategic value of such participation on the Chinese side is that China better understands the scope of our activities in the north. It will be possible, “he said.
China secures observer status at AC 2013..
China’s changing calculus
China is still a “newcomer” to the Arctic, depending on the goodwill and know-how of other governments, Lantein said.
“Many of them [Beijing’s] Arctic policy relies not only on science and diplomacy, but also on open areas with very good trade and economic cooperation. And at this point, we don’t seem to be heading in that direction, “Lantein said.
AC has been dormant following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is currently facing an uncertain future.
Lanteigne added that a long-term suspension of AC activities would not benefit China, as much of its work as an observer would go through working groups and task forces.
“That street is currently closed and we don’t know how long, which means China is much more dependent on bilateral diplomacy with Arctic countries,” Lantein said.
Lanteigne pointed out signs that China is beginning to withdraw from deeper relations with Russia in the field of scientific research as a way to mitigate reputational risk.
Quoting the Chinese expression translated “Don’t look for trouble, I can’t find you,” he said it was the way China currently manages its relations with Russia.
“At the risk of China being subject to the same sanctions Russia is currently experiencing by being too close to Russia economically, that is, by initiating bilateral cooperation in the Arctic and elsewhere. There is concern that it will be, “Lantein said.
NATO and the Arctic Circle
In addition, Sweden and Finland may join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This will increase the presence of the multilateral military alliance in the Arctic Circle.
“If you ask them [Beijing] Their thoughts on Finland and Sweden joining NATO would say that this does not promote world peace and NATO should refrain from further expansion. In fact, this is their motto, “said Saint-Jacques.
NATO’s keen interest in the Arctic Circle would not be in China’s favor, even before the Swedish and Finnish issues were added, Lantein said.
He said that geopolitics in the Arctic is increasingly linked to NATO geopolitics. Jessica Shadian, President and CEO of Arctic360. Arctic 360 works to attract investment in the North American Arctic.
“It has been argued that bringing NATO’s activities into the Arctic would jeopardize the achievement of the peaceful cooperation that the Arctic Council has created for the region,” she said, Canada’s geopolitics in the Arctic. He added that he is becoming more and more “out of step” as his studies change.
She added that some of this trend is due to Canada’s focus on AC for most of its foreign policy. AC has no military component in its mission and focuses primarily on environmental issues.
“Canada’s Arctic Diplomacy-again, it’s not just the Arctic Council around the Arctic, but beyond it. Diplomatic cooperation exists outside the Arctic Council,” Shadian said.
“Two birds with one stone”
Ron Wallace, Fellow of the Canada Global Affairs Institute, said:
Canada also needs to develop icebreaking capabilities and port facilities, he added. “Canada needs to step up [its] Diplomacy in the Arctic Circle and its diplomacy games are in a big sense. “
Canada’s military spending is NATO’s goal 2 percent Of the gross domestic product, experts say that by investing in NORAD’s modernization, we will make remarkable progress towards achieving our goals.
“In this case, one stone can kill two birds, as it also meets the need to increase investment in the army, which may also be our contribution to NATO. “Saint-Jacques said.
Sardine recommends that Canada build closer diplomatic relations with Greenland. Greenland has a lot of important minerals that China wants. In addition, she advises the government to create an Arctic think tank that is more focused on the Arctic and policy-focused in its early key mineral strategies.
Canada’s 2022 federal budget announced the first in the country Important minerals Strategy, up to $ 3.8 billion in support over eight years.