Ulrik Pram Gad, Naja Dyrendom Graugaard, Anders Holgersen, Marc Jacobsen, Nina Lave & Nikoline Schriver
For decades, Greenlandic politicians have sought independence in international politics and economy. Renewed global interest in the Arctic has given new impetus to a strategy of diversifying the existing dependency relations, as a way to put coloniality behind. This article investigates how Greenlandic foreign policy narratives have cast China in different roles that support this strategy. Some narratives are informed by Orientalist tropes imported from Denmark, while others dismiss the very same tropes. Some embrace Chinese partners as crucial on Greenland’s road to independence, while others reject China as imperialist. Mainly, China has been imagined as a potent source of material resources (export revenues, investments, labour). Initially, this narrative was employed to support a business attempt to reinvigorate traditional hunting through new export channels. Later, narratives underscored Greenlandic ambitions as a mining country. Recently, they have backed a Greenlandic search for new solutions to the less-hyped fishing and tourism industries. Besides the promise of material gains, Greenlandic authorities have also imagined China as an occasion for international recognition. However, the sought for recognition has changed drastically, from the time when Greenland’s national team played soccer against Tibet to current attempts to negotiate science, infrastructure and paradiplomacy with Beijing and Copenhagen. The analysis is based on media reports, government foreign policy statements and parliamentary debates 1999-2018. Theoretically, the analysis draws on a tradition of analyzing international politics and foreign policy as driven by narratives constructing nation state identities in relation to Others, focusing particularly on Orientalist tropes and anti-colonial alternatives.
When will the Iceberg Melt? Narrating the Arctic Among Chinese and Danish Tourists Aboard a Cruise Ship in Greenland
Ane Bislev & Karina Smed
The exponential growth in Chinese outbound tourism and the increased sophistication and diversification of Chinese tourist preferences have meant that Chinese tourists have become an interesting resource for destinations around the globe including of course Arctic destinations. The pristine Arctic nature is likewise seen as a valuable resource by the experienced Chinese tourists. This growth has led to an ever-increasing interest in the Chinese market from actors in the tourism industry, policy-makers and the media around the world. Even though the number of studies on Chinese tourism is growing, there is still a lack of indepth, qualitative research on Chinese tourism especially in destinations like the Arctic. This paper will provide a cultural analysis of a nine-day cruise in Greenland aboard a Scandinavian cruise ship with a mixed passenger group consisting of primarily Danish and Chinese tourists. The focus will be on the co-construction of Greenland as an Arctic destination through different narratives by both the travel agency, the tourists and the tour guides. The narratives will be explored in order to provide a nuanced understanding of the Arctic experiences of these Danish and Chinese tourists, thereby adding a perspective on the Arctic that will give insight into the unexplored potential of the Arctic as a resource to Chinese tourists and Chinese tourists as a resource to Arctic communities.
China is in the Arctic to Stay as a Great Power: How China’s Increasingly Confident, Proactive & Sophisticated Arctic Diplomacy Plays into Kingdom of Denmark Tensions
Camilla T. N. Sørensen
As demonstrated by China’s first and long-awaited Arctic Policy White Paper released in January 2018, the Arctic is assigned increasing strategic importance in Beijing. The central priority behind China’s intensified diplomatic and economic activities in the region is to establish strong and comprehensive relationships with all the Arctic states and stakeholders and gradually increase China’s presence and influence in Arctic multilateral institutions. This is the context in which to analyze recent developments in the Chinese approach to the Kingdom of Denmark constellation and, more specifically, in the Chinese engagement in Greenland. The article contextualizes and examines the increasingly confident, proactive and sophisticated Chinese diplomacy in the Arctic with a focus on exploring how Greenland fits into this. The main argument is that there is more to China’s growing interests and activities in Greenland than ensuring Chinese access to potential Greenlandic resources. Rather, the main driving force is Beijing’s long-term aim to ensure great power influence in the Arctic. The article further explores the complex triangular relations between Beijing, Nuuk, and Copenhagen with Washington on the side underlining how further developments in relations between Nuuk and Copenhagen, one the one hand, will be influenced by “the China factor” but also, on the other hand, will set the parameters for how China’s role in Greenland further develops.
Shipping Matters: The Role of Arctic Shipping in Shaping China’s Engagement in Arctic Resource Development
China’s engagement in Arctic resource development represents an option that guarantees its diversification of energy supply. It could be influenced by multifaceted factors, ranging from the changing landscape ofArctic geopolitics, the resource development policies of Arctic states, and certain realistic restrictions affecting economic viability and operational feasibility. This article argues that accessibility, specifically reliable, economical and time-saving maritime connections linking the Arctic resource production sites with the extra-regional market plays a decisive role in shaping China’s interests in the Arctic resource development. China’s investment in Russia’s Yamal Arctic LNG project is such a case in point. It demonstrates the complementarity and mutual reinforcement between the use of Arctic shipping routes and the development of Arctic resources. The added value of Arctic shipping to China’s engagement in Arctic resources development lies in that it not only facilitates the distribution of Arctic resources to the Chinese market in a reliable and economical approach, but also brings China’s expertise in permafrost engineering into the global oil/gas market and fosters China’s all-round engagement in the Arctic regional economic development.
Increased shipping in the Arctic will mean not only increasing tourism revenue for local communities but, more importantly in the long run, increasing health risks for local residents. The overwhelming majority of ships is powered with fossil fuels and concerns over emissions have led to the creation of Emission Control Areas, such as the Sulphur Emissions Control Area (SECA) in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and along much, but not all, of the coasts of the United States and Canada. None of the existing SECAs includes areas north of the Arctic Circle. This means that coastal communities, in particular in cruise ship destinations, are put at risk from high emissions of SO2. The research presented here shows that China has the potential to play several roles in contributing to the protection of coastal communities in the Arctic and in safeguarding the human right to live in a healthy environment, which has long been recognized by the European Court of Human Rights. It will be shown that China has the potential to use international forms of cooperation in the context of the work of the International Maritime Organization in order to support the establishment of a SECA for the entire Arctic Ocean but can also profit from it in the long run, provided that China’s shipbuilding industry becomes able to meet the needs of more environment conscious ship buyers.
A growing global market for generic minerals that are used in technical products for the ‘green’ energy transition and the electronic industry holds interesting potential for the Arctic. This article takes Greenland as an example of an Arctic nation which may offer an alternative sourcing country for minerals otherwise known as ‘conflict-minerals’. China’s electronic, solar power and wind energy industries need certain generic minerals for production for the global market. Certain conflict-ridden countries are main sources of some of these minerals, which are known as ‘conflict minerals’ when their trade helps fuel the conflicts. Commitment to fight conflict minerals have led to various guiding normative standards; and the EU and US have introduced requirements on importers and manufacturers to document efforts to avoid conflict-related supply chains. These developments underscore the potential market for deposits elsewhere. China has responded by developing guidelines for minerals supply chains and mining investment. The article explains that these guidelines can apply outside conflict areas and discusses how their connection to other international regulatory instruments for business responsibility for human rights can be deployed by Greenlandic actors to enhance the implementation by Chinese economic entities of Greenlandic policies and national regulation on social sustainability. The article argues that in particular the Chinese guidelines’ reference to the concept of riskbased due diligence, a concept that has been introduced by guidelines from the United Nations (UN) and elaborated in guidelines from the Organisation for Economic Collaboration and Development (OECD) as a company approach for identifying and managing its adverse impacts, may be deployed to complement Greenland’s own regulation on stakeholder engagement.
Patrik Andersson, Jesper Willaing Zeuthen & Per Kalvig
This article contributes to the academic debate on China’s growing interests in the Arctic and enriches our understanding of the various economic and political factors influencing Chinese investment decisions in the mineral sector. The article studies Chinese interests in two Arctic advanced mineral exploration projects – the Citronen Fjord zinc project in Northern Greenland and the Kvanefjeld (Kuannersuit) Rare Earth Element (REE)-uranium project in Southern Greenland. It analyses China’s different policies for REE and zinc and their different roles in China’s foreign policy strategy – the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), which also includes plans for establishing an “Ice Silk Road”. Based on a study of Chinese-language policy documents and academic articles from the mining sector, we argue that Chinese involvement in the two projects is driven by different strategic considerations. Chinese involvement in REE projects overseas is primarily driven by China’s interest in the strategic resource itself, whereas decisions of where to engage in zinc projects are to a higher degree determined by China’s foreign policy priorities. China has a well-developed and clearly defined national strategy for REE, a resource it considers “strategic,” of which the Kvanefjeld project is likely to be part. Zinc, on the other hand, is not a strategic resource to China, but still essential for its industry. Hence, we argue that the Citronen Fjord project is less tied to national resource strategy; instead, it offers China access to the Arctic region and to zinc as an added bonus. By focusing on the mineral sector, the article explores the extent to which mineral interests drive Chinese foreign policy and to what extent other foreign policy interests influence the Chinese mineral sector overseas.