J. William Middendorf, a resident of Little Compton, served as Secretary of the Navy during the Ford Administration. His recent book is “The Great Nightfall: How We Win the New Cold War.”
Known as Hope Bay in Nunavut, Canada and 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle, it is a 50-by-15 mile stretch of property consisting of a 2,000-ton per day gold ore processing plant, air strips, roads, fuel storage facilities, power plants and administrative buildings and a wharf extending half a mile in the now often ice free Arctic Ocean. Negotiations now underway would make it the property of the Peoples’ Republic of China.
Suspicious Canadians see the wharf as capable of being enlarged into a major dock capable of accommodating icebreakers, submarines and surface war ships of the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and believe it could become the northern equivalent of Chinese military and economic development in the disputed islands of the South China Sea.
They’ve pointed out that the U.S. Navy recently had to deploy two massive aircraft carrier battle groups in the vicinity of these islands — a major buildup from the usual Freedom of the Seas patrols by individual destroyers — to demonstrate U.S. commitment to international law and to protecting freedom of the seas. Will such shows of force be needed to warn off Chinese territorial ambitions in the Arctic?
Right now, however, the Trudeau government seems more concerned with pondering the potential economic advantages of approving the proposed sale of the property, now owned by TMAC resources, Inc. to China’s Shandong Gold Mining Co.