The Arctic Could Be the Next South China Sea, Says Coast Guard Commandant – by Caroline Houck (Defense One – August 1, 2017)

Rich with energy resources, minerals and strategic positioning, the warming Arctic is ripe for territorial disputes, Adm. Zukunft warns.

No one’s creating and arming islands in the Arctic today, but that doesn’t mean territorial disputes couldn’t soon heat up in those waters, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard warned today.

“As I look at what is playing out in the Arctic, it looks eerily familiar to what we’re seeing in the East and South China Sea,” Adm. Paul Zukunft said Tuesday at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

That means first, audacious territorial claims, Zukunft said: “Russia has claimed most of the Arctic Ocean, all the way up to the North Pole and as a signatory of the Law of the Sea Convention has filed this claim.”

The United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, is the 1982 treaty that established nations’ maritime rights and responsibilities. It’s also the agreement under which the Philippines brought suit against China for violating its territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea. Last year, an international court rejected China’s expansive nine-dash line claims.

The admiral noted more Chinese maritime traffic in the far north. “The Snow Dragon…is on her way up to the Arctic from China,” he said. “And they routinely stop and do research in our extended continental shelf. They’ve established a pattern.”

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