11 January 2017
While China doesn’t border Arctic regions, this doesn’t preclude Beijing from making future security moves involving the Northwest Passage or other northern reaches, especially if such routes become shipping lifelines and sovereignty tensions escalate.
In that scenario, the Chinese may see the need to protect their shipping militarily as well as diplomatically.
Some signs of this thinking are already there. Five Chinese Navy ships raised eyebrows in September 2015 by entering US territorial waters off Alaska in an unprecedented patrol.
The move was allowed under the maritime rule of “innocent passage.” But the US media touted it as a sign of China’s growing naval capability and its interest in Arctic resources. The Chinese naval demonstration also coincided with a trip to Alaska by US President Barack Obama.
“If that isn’t a message to the US, I don’t know what the definition of a message is,” said Joseph Callo, a New York-based naval writer and retired rear admiral in the US Navy Reserve.
… “I’m not so much concerned about China deploying new strategic (submarine-launched ballistic missile submarines) to the Arctic as I am seeing them deployed into the vast Pacific Ocean,” said the senior fellow and coordinator of the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. Bitzinger says the open waters of the Pacific offer better hiding places than the Arctic for China’s Type 96.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 13/01/2017