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GS-III :
  • 02 September, 2019

  • Min Read

A polar region we must keep on the radar in a multipolar world

GS-III: A polar region we must keep on the radar in a multipolar world

Context

A recent offer by the US president to buy Greenland is indicative of the emerging geopolitics of the Arctic region. Climate change and China are fast destabilizing the status quo and throwing up political, security, legal, and environmental challenges. Autonomous vehicles and robots can populate uninhabitable regions and the next few decades could see the Arctic emerge as a hotspot of great power competition.

Background

  • Rising global temperatures are causing the frozen Arctic Ocean to melt, opening up new sea routes and opportunities to extract hydrocarbons and minerals from the seabed and the newly exposed land surfaces.
  • Countries of the Arctic are trying to take advantage of these opportunities.
  • China declared itself a “near Arctic” country and is making determined efforts to extend its footprint in the polar region. Chinese firms have tried to purchase large tracts of land in Iceland, Norway and Denmark.
  • There are concerns that Chinese investments in Greenland’s natural resource economy might persuade the local population to secede from Denmark, creating a Laos-like Chinese satellite state between North America and Europe.

Arctic politics

  • How should the region be shared among the eight Arctic countries Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US as there are overlapping territorial claims among them?
  • They have formed the Arctic Council to institutionalize their self-assigned rights, but many in China, the European Union, and India are against conceding sovereignty to the Arctic countries.
  • Russia, Canada and Denmark are all claimants to the ownership of the Arctic pole.
  • Russia is both building up its military capabilities in the region and promoting the Northern Sea Route (NSR) as a new artery of global shipping. It recently announced that it will impose rules on commercial and naval vessels using the route.
  • Both China and the US will contest Russia’s jurisdiction on this water.

Source: Live Mint


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