By Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins
As policymakers in Washington focus on China’s expanding presence in Africa and growing assertiveness in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean region, Danish diplomatic assistance is opening the gate for China to establish a strategic foothold in the Arctic.
Denmark has made a strategic decision to prioritize its economic relationship with China and is now becoming the key gateway for Beijing’s commercial and strategic entrée into the Arctic. Denmark advocates giving China a seat at the Arctic policy table. Friis Arne Peterson, the Danish ambassador to China, stated in October that China has “natural and legitimate economic and scientific interests in the Arctic.” Copenhagen likewise supports giving China permanent membership on the Arctic Council, the eight-nation forum that includes the five Arctic Ocean coastal states (the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia) as well as Sweden, Iceland and Finland.