China’s ruling communist regime seeks to expand into the Arctic region to exploit natural resources, secure trade routes, and garner a military advantage against the United States, according to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its leader, Xi Jinping, are putting China on a path toward confrontation with the United States by pursuing strategic objectives in the region, Pompeo said in an interview with the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank where Pompeo is a distinguished fellow.
“Xi Jinping has made very clear that he wants to rule forever and that his rule should be over everything,” Pompeo said. “I think we should take that seriously.”
“Make no mistake about it, the CCP has deep, strategic military intentions in the Arctic.”
Pompeo said that the CCP is encroaching on the Arctic region as part of a wider effort to secure military and economic security against the West. That effort goes back a number of years but reached new highs in 2017 when the CCP attempted to purchase a decommissioned naval base in Greenland.
The Arctic region is critical to U.S. defense and national security, Pompeo said, not just because of the resources located there, but also because ballistic missiles launched by China or Russia at the United States would need to pass over the region.
“America’s national security depends on this region,” Pompeo said. “Every single Chinese land-based ICBM must fly through the Arctic region to hit its targets here in the United States and Canada.”
“Our missile defense against such ICBMs, whether they come from Russia or China, are deployed primarily in the Arctic, in Greenland, and Alaska.”
Pompeo said that the eight nations of the Arctic Council should ban military presence in the Arctic by non-Arctic countries.
The eight nations that exercise sovereignty over land within the Arctic region are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.
The CCP has dubbed China a “near-Arctic state” to legitimize its move into the region, but the designation has no legal authority and is not recognized outside of China.
“The Chinese Communist Party lacks any legitimate claim to sovereignty [in the region] even though it has made … this idea of it being a ‘near-Arctic nation,’” Pompeo said.
“The CCP should never be permitted to be part of any organization, including the Arctic Council, that is trying to deliver outcomes for this special space.”
To that end, however, Pompeo warned that the CCP and Kremlin were closely aligned and that the United States might reasonably expect to see Sino-Russian cooperation in the region as the two powers work to undermine the U.S.-led West.
“I don’t think there’s any chance China’s going to do much independently,” Pompeo said of Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I think these two are now locked in.”
“The Arctic will be another place where we will find the two of them working together.”
Pompeo said that the recent decision by Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership was a “good outcome” and hoped that the admission of the two into the defensive alliance would increase security cooperation in the Arctic.