China views coming resource struggle in Arctic as possibly leading to military conflict
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Popular glossy military magazines in China often beat the war drums about the likeli- hood of conflict breaking out in the Arctic. An article in the November 2010 issue of Dangdai haijun is a typical example:
According to the “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” currently in effect, the Arctic does not belong to any country. In addition to the five circum-Arctic countries Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, and Norway, many [other] countries have proclaimed partial sovereignty over the Arctic. At present there is no Arctic country which has clearly proven that its continental shelf extends into the Arctic, and because of this the Arctic is regarded as an “international area” and is supervised and managed by the Inter- national Seabed Authority. Some countries are contending for Arctic sovereignty, and this is tantamount to infringing upon the interests of the other countries of the world. In facing this real and quite unpredictable “scramble and battle for the Arctic” and the probability of some countries dividing up the [Arctic] melon with the aid of geographical advantage and military might, if peaceful means cannot produce the anticipated effects, war becomes the only method for resolving the issue. Based on this, it is not difficult for us to imagine that the probability of the future outbreak of war in the Arctic is very high, and that as soon as war breaks out, the United States, Russia, and Canada will be its main principals.
In Canada, more benign and rational assessments of potential trouble in the Arctic usually (but not always) prevail; there may be tension and friction in the Arctic in the future, but by and large Canadian commentators on Arctic affairs do not usually see conflict as a distinct possibility. The conclusions of Kyle D. Christensen of Canada’s National Defence Headquarters are typical: “There exists in China a distinct group of academics and officials trying to influence leaders to adopt a much more assertive stance in the Arctic than has traditionally been the case. This could ultimately bring China into disagreement with circumpolar states in a variety of issue areas, and alter security an sovereignty relationships in the circumpolar region.”