China’s Arctic Ambitions Face Threat
A Norwegian newspaper has reported that poor relations between Norway and China over the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, and the series of diplomatic snubs by China that have ensued, may prompt Norway to shut China out of the Arctic Council. From The Guardian:
If confirmed, Oslo’s move would mark a bold confrontation with the world’s fastest rising economic power and highlight the growing importance of the Arctic, which is opening up for navigation and mineral exploitation as it melts due to global warming.
China’s relations with Norway have been frosty since October 2010, when the Oslo-based Nobel committee announced that Liu, an imprisoned Chinese democracy activist, would be the next peace laureate.
Although the Norwegian government has stressed that the Nobel committee is independent, Beijing has punished its host nation by cutting political and human rights dialogues.
Until now, Norway has tried to use quiet diplomacy to ease the situation but, with little sign of progress, the Aftenposten, Norway’s best selling newspaper, claims the government is preparing to up the stakes.
China has not shied away from its desire for involvement in the development of the rich deposits of natural resources in the Arctic, and recently enlisted the help of Denmark in its campaign to gain permanent membership on the Arctic Council. Still, Business Insider’s Adam Taylor wrote on Wednesday, Norway could be the key roadblock for China.