Chinese Ambassador to Denmark Feng Tie has lashed out against an opinion piece penned by his US colleague Carla Sands, who accused China and Russia of having malign designs on Greenland and the Arctic as a whole.
“In her op-ed, the US ambassador indirectly stated that the US's attempts to boost its influence in Greenland are the best possible solution for Denmark and Greenland, as the alternative is that Russia and China come and take over Greenland. This is absurd and misleading”, Feng Tie wrote in his rebuttal in the newspaper Altinget, stressing that China respects the sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdictions of Arctic states.
According to Feng, there is no reason to see China as a threat, but rather “as a partner with many opportunities”. “It is important to remember that any cooperation is voluntary. China can in no way impose cooperation on Greenland or Denmark”, he emphasised.
Feng also waved aside Sands's assumptions that Beijing was “gradually trying to penetrate the Arctic” by gaining a “foothold” through a network of scientific observation posts. Feng rejected that argument as well, noting that China has a right to access parts of the Arctic under the 1920 Svalbard Treaty, which granted permission to various signatories to conduct scientific research and commercial activities in specific areas of the region.
He stressed that no Chinese companies are currently operating in Greenland, but added that Beijing is open to step up economic cooperation.
Feng also hit back at Sands's accusations of Chinese pollution, pointing out the US is a major polluter.
“In Greenland, US pollution is extremely extensive, and we may only know the tip of the iceberg”, Feng wrote, citing “many unresolved questions” about “the mysterious city under ice”, Camp Century, located about 200 kilometres from the US base Thule. Camp Century was part of America's secret Cold War nuclear missile programme, which went by the name of Project Iceworm.
Furthermore, Feng recalled an incident from 1968, when a US B-52 bomber crashed in Greenland with four nuclear bombs. “The crash caused radioactive pollution in the area. Local people still report animals born with malformations”, he added.
Danish expert Lars Bangert Struwe, Secretary General of the Atlantic Association, suggested that the two ambassadors' clash outlined the two major powers' rivalry for the next 10-15 years.
In April, the US angered Copenhagen with its offer of a $12 million aid package to kickstart US investments in Greenland's tourism and energy sectors, while citing its concerns of Russian and Chinese influence. A number of Danish MPs from numerous parties saw the move as an attempt to undermine Denmark's ties with the world's largest island, which is part of the Danish realm.
Last year, US President Donald Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark. The offer was flatly rejected by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen as “absurd”.