OPINION: Canada has plenty of reasons to stand up to China. Arctic sovereignty isn’t one of them – by Michael Byers (Globe and Mail – December 2, 2020)


Michael Byers is the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, and the author of International Law and the Arctic.

A Chinese state-owned company wants to purchase a gold mine in Nunavut. Does the Arctic location make the purchase a national security risk?

The Hope Bay gold mine is operated by TMAC Resources, a junior Canadian mining company. Shandong Gold wants to buy TMAC for $208-million, and 97 per cent of TMAC shareholders have approved the sale.

Meanwhile, however, the Canadian government has ordered a national security review; some experts, including retired Major-General David Fraser, have pointed to Arctic sovereignty and security as reasons for blocking the sale.

But Canadian sovereignty is not being threatened. Shandong Gold is not buying the land, which is recognized as “Inuit-owned” under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Instead, the Chinese company will operate under licenses from the local and territorial land claims organizations – and pay royalties to them.

Canada’s position in the Northwest Passage would also not be threatened by this purchase. Hope Bay is located along the southernmost of several routes through Canada’s Arctic islands. This route is so shallow and poorly charted that three small cruise ships have run aground there.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-canada-has-plenty-of-reasons-to-stand-up-to-china-arctic-sovereignty/