The U.S. on Monday said it planned to beef up its Arctic presence to keep Russia and China’s “aggressive behaviour” in check in the resource-rich region.
“The region has become an arena of global power and competition” owing to vast reserves of oil, gas, minerals and fish stocks, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in a speech in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Speaking on the eve of a meeting of the Arctic Council, Mr. Pompeo said, “China’s pattern of aggressive behaviour elsewhere will inform how it treats the Arctic,” he said.
Mr. Pompeo warned against scenarios whereby nations become ensnared by debt and corruption, of low-quality investments, militarisation and uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources, all of which he said were potential effects of allowing rising Chinese influence.
He also denounced Russia’s “provocative actions”, accusing Moscow of wanting to remilitarise the region.
China on Tuesday hit back, saying that Mr. Pompeo’s remarks were “a misrepresentation of the facts that has ulterior motives”.
“We have no geopolitical calculations, and seek no exclusionary blocs,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press briefing.