Golf courses in Iceland; worker colonies in Greenland? What is China up to? In a ground-breaking commentary of vital national interest to Canadians, Roger W. Robinson Jr., a specialist in global security risk, warns that China's true intention in the Arctic is to put on a friendly face in order to position itself to control or exploit energy, mineral and fishing resources, and the strategic waterways now gradually opening due to melting ice.
OTTAWA, Sept. 12, 2013 – The Arctic region has become a strategic prize in China's global quest for resources and Asia-Pacific hegemony, argues prominent global security specialist Roger W. Robinson Jr. in a commentary released today by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute titled "China's 'Long Con' in the Arctic." Robinson lays out China's long-term plan to push its agenda on weaker Arctic players and to gain the confidence of Canada and the United States. When it does play its real hand, it may be too late.
"Indeed, Beijing is willing to 'buy' territories or governments with an Arctic presence to advance its standing and influence in this rising theatre of operations," Mr. Robinson warns.
He said that part of China's strategy is based on a term used in the confidence racket, the "long con," and the Arctic states including Canada are the marks.
In China's case, being granted observer status at the May 2013 Arctic Council meeting in Sweden represented a milestone in "slipping into the leading governing body of one of the largest strategic resource and transportation finds of our time," Mr. Robinson said.
"Beijing's state-owned enterprises are more than willing to play along with the Council's focus on the environment and sustainable economic development – for now," he said.
"Security-minded analysts should be concerned that China's true intention is to position itself to influence heavily, if not outright control, the awarding of select Arctic energy- and fishing-related concessions, as well as the rules and political arrangements governing the use of strategic waterways now gradually opening due to melting ice."
Mr. Robinson urged Canada, as Chair of the Arctic Council from 2013 until 2015, to take careful note of China's methods and tactics in securing attractive projects and stakes around the Arctic perimeter. He said it can expect similar approaches to its government and private sector firms.
"This strategy was on vivid display in Ottawa during the course of the $15.1 billion acquisition of Nexen by CNOOC (the China National Offshore Oil Corporation) in December 2012," he said. Mr. Robinson said Beijing's Arctic strategy is underpinned by the initial use of soft power to attain its regional objectives. This discernible pattern of behaviour has even greater prospects for success when romancing smaller countries or territories that have limited financial and other resources.
Roger W. Robinson Jr. is a major authority in global security issues. He was formerly chairman of the Congressional US-China Economic and Security Review Commission and senior director of international economic affairs at the US National Security Council. He is currently president and CEO of RWR Advisory Group LLC, an international risk-management consulting firm in Washington, D.C. He previously authored the MLI Commentary "Standing on Guard Post Nexen: Chinese State-Owned Enterprise and Canadian National Security."
The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is the only non-partisan, independent national public policy think tank in Ottawa focusing on the full range of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
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