Camilla T. N. Sørensen

As demonstrated by China’s first and long-awaited Arctic Policy White Paper released in January 2018, the Arctic is assigned increasing strategic importance in Beijing. The central priority behind China’s intensified diplomatic and economic activities in the region is to establish strong and comprehensive relationships with all the Arctic states and stakeholders and gradually increase China’s presence and influence in Arctic multilateral institutions. This is the context in which to analyze recent developments in the Chinese approach to the Kingdom of Denmark constellation and, more specifically, in the Chinese engagement in Greenland. The article contextualizes and examines the increasingly confident, proactive and sophisticated Chinese diplomacy in the Arctic with a focus on exploring how Greenland fits into this. The main argument is that there is more to China’s growing interests and activities in Greenland than ensuring Chinese access to potential Greenlandic resources. Rather, the main driving force is Beijing’s long-term aim to ensure great power influence in the Arctic. The article further explores the complex triangular relations between Beijing, Nuuk, and Copenhagen with Washington on the side underlining how further developments in relations between Nuuk and Copenhagen, one the one hand, will be influenced by “the China factor” but also, on the other hand, will set the parameters for how China’s role in Greenland further develops.

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