According to the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report, Denmark has made a strategic decision to serve as “the key gateway for Beijing’s commercial and strategic entrée into the Arctic,” with Greenland’s mineral deposits being the “key bargaining chip“ as Denmark seeks to bolster its trade relations with Beijing.
Resource-hungry China has an obvious interest to stake a claim to the Arctic’s deposits, which, in Greenland alone, are known to include rare earths, uranium, iron ore, lead, zinc, petroleum and gemstones. Meanwhile, the U.S., while having ceded its strategic advantage over China in other parts of the world (China has overtaken the U.S. as Africa’s main trading partner, for example), is in the fortunate position to already have a claim in the region – via Alaska.
Now would be a good time for the U.S. to apply the state’s motto “North to the Future,” and to harness Alaska’s significant resource potential, which would go far in boosting job creation, while at the same time helping reduce our needless over-reliance on foreign mineral resources.
One of the big challenges is to overcome a rigid permitting process, which has given the U.S. the dubious honor of being tied with Papua New Guinea for the longest approval process for mining permits among the top 25 mining countries in the world. With this structural issue continuing to threaten Alaska’s (and the country’s) strategic and economic future, one would hope that China’s appearance on the Arctic stage would help sharpen the policymakers’ focus.