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The Dangerous Myth of Arctic Adjacency

‘From Wuhan to the world’: so addressed were the plague-parcels silently shipped to docks and airports. Coronavirus has unleashed global economic devastation unfathomable mere months ago. China is anything but contrite or penitent. Instead, the People’s Republic prowls the rubble, waging an opportunistic campaign of corporate conquest. Amid Scandinavian aviation’s desperate bid for survival, China made off with a substantial stake in Norwegian Air.

In order to meet Norway’s bailout requirements, Norwegian Air had to reduce its debt. Accordingly, the airline converted a portion of its financial obligations to organizations providing aircraft lease agreements into equity. Bank of China (BOC) Aviation acquired 389,053,742 shares, or nearly 13% of Norwegian Air. Just like that, Norway’s largest airline became subject to Chinese control.

The labyrinthine ownership structure between BOC Aviation and the Chinese state obscures their relationship. BOC Aviation is controlled by Sky Splendor Limited, which is controlled by BOC Group Investment Limited, and so on. Eventually, this subsidiary chain leads back to “the government of the People’s Republic of China”. China used a global crisis of their own creation to carve out a corporate foothold in the Arctic.

This is no isolated incident. It’s merely China’s latest Arctic acquisition in their ‘Polar Silk Road’, legitimized by a fabricated ‘near-Arctic’ identity. No international authority recognizes ‘near-Arctic’ status, but that hasn’t stopped the People’s Republic.

After becoming an Arctic Council observer state in 2013, China began a frenetic blitz of Arctic development projects. Often in conjunction with Russia, China has invested in, constructed, and improved numerous ports, research centers, oilfields, and natural gas deposits. Even Iceland, Norway, and France have partnered with China in their polar pursuits.

As other nations devote resources and assets in the region to secure their national interests, America cannot afford to fall behind.

Luke D. Coffey, Heritage Foundation

The People’s Republic’s quiet expansionism shows no signs of stopping. Norway is just the first Arctic nation to have its sovereignty diminished. If the United States refuses to accelerate its Arctic development, China’s influence will only grow. The High North’s future and freedom depend on American leadership.

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