Thursday, March 4, 2021
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Opportunity vs threat: Canada’s unpredictable and sometimes irreconcilable relationship with China

Opportunity vs threat: Canada's unpredictable and sometimes irreconcilable relationship with China
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“China could use its civilian research presence in the Arctic to strengthen its military presence, including deployment of submarines to the region as a deterrent against nuclear attack,” he said.

After Shandong’s proposed takeover of TMAC collapsed, China’s embassy in Ottawa said the rejection amounted to “politicization of normal economic cooperation” between the two countries, and warned that “political interference with the excuse of national security is wrong.”

Just as it’s dominating the South China Sea, (China) will seek to have a degree of agency in the Arctic that won’t be in our interests

David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China

David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, who supported the government’s decision to reject the takeover, said the security concerns about TMAC were general.

“Just as it’s dominating the South China Sea,” he said, “it will seek to have a degree of agency in the Arctic that won’t be in our interests.”

The Arctic waters are increasingly navigable, and the number of voyages through federally monitored waters has topped 300 in recent years, from around 100 in 2009, according to data from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Canada rejected the $230-million takeover of TMAC Resources’ Hope Bay mine in Nunavut by Chinese state-owned enterprise Shandong Gold Mining in December. Photo by TMAC Resources

Of course, China already has a presence in the Canadian Arctic. MMG Ltd., also a Chinese state-owned enterprise, has controlled the rights to an undeveloped zinc and copper deposit in Nunavut’s Izok Lake and High Lake area since 2009.

No mine has been built, in part, because it is prohibitively expensive to transport bulk metals from such a remote location. However, the proposed Grays Bay Road and Port Project, if constructed at an estimated cost of more than $500 million, would pass near the mine site, potentially connecting it to a deepwater port on Coronation Gulf.



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