China is looking to exploit mineral rich Arctic
[ Page 69 ]
China’s global resource strategy has led the PRC to the far corners of the earth, from Venezuelan oil fields to energy-rich Siberia. Now, as a consequence of accelerating climate change and the melting of the polar ice cap, China is increasingly looking to the arctic Circle for new resource-extraction and maritime-shipping opportunities. Current estimates as to when the arctic could be seasonally ice-free have varied greatly from as early as summer 2013 to as late as 2040; in any case, the arctic is evidently thawing more rapidly than most climate models initially predicted.46 In august 2012, for example, the National Snow and Ice data Center observed that arctic sea-ice extent had reached the lowest level on record, prompting concerns about the exponential speed at which the polar ice is disappearing.47 Chinese leaders are keenly aware of this trend and are making calculated preparations to exploit an ice-free arctic.