Biden administration releases national Arctic strategy to counter China and Russia

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The Biden administration unveiled its national Arctic strategy on Oct. 7, pointing to growing competition with China and Russia in the region.

It is the first national strategy for the region to be released since 2013, although several US government departments, including the Department of Homeland Security and the military, have released their own strategies more recently.

The Arctic is home to more than 50,000 Americans, and the new strategy goes on to define strategic competition in the region as a matter of protecting the American homeland and maintaining regional stability with international partners.

“Because we share the region with seven other nations, the Arctic is critical to U.S. foreign policy and national security,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. said in an associated declaration.

“We have no higher priority than defending our country and our people, and Arctic security is key to that.”

The Arctic has increasingly received strategic attention in recent years due to its vast reserves of natural resources. Oil, natural gas, rare earth metals, diamonds and pristine fishing grounds are all found in abundance in the region. Additionally, melting polar ice caps caused trade routes to remain open for weeks or even months longer during the year before freezing and closing.

As such, the once undisputed region will play an important role in global geopolitics for years to come.

Bruce Jones, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said China and the United States were entering a long period of naval competition for which the Arctic would be a focal point.

“It’s become one of the hottest competition areas around,” Jones previously said in an interview with The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD. “The biggest problem is that climate change is rapidly altering the ability to navigate the Arctic Sea year-round.”

“There are huge commercial stakes. The energy stakes are enormous. There are huge fishing issues. And, of course, there are strategic issues.

The new National Strategy for the Arctic Region (pdf) focuses on four key priorities to this end: security, climate change, economic development and international cooperation.

“The growing strategic importance of the Arctic has intensified competition to shape its future as countries pursue new economic interests and prepare for increased activity,” the document said.

“China…seeks to increase its influence in the Arctic through an expanded list of economic, diplomatic, scientific and military activities. He also underlined his intention to play a greater role in shaping regional governance.

The strategy also outlines the steps China’s ruling Communist Party has taken to insert itself into the Arctic, despite having no real claims to the region.

Among these, the strategy notes that China has doubled its investment in Arctic projects in recent years and focuses on mining and science engagements that it can use to conduct dual-use research for the benefit of its own. army.

To counter the threat, the new strategy will include the appointment of an Arctic Goodwill Ambassador to help coordinate policies beneficial to the region with Arctic countries such as Finland and Sweden, both of which have requested their joining NATO this year.

“We will continue to work closely with our Arctic allies and partners to uphold international law, rules and standards in the region,” Blinken said.

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Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times and covers China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds an MA in Military History from Norwich University.

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