China is a growing threat to Canadian interests in the Arctic because of its need for natural resources, a top Defence Department official warned.
In frank comments to the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence, deputy minister Jody Thomas said on Wednesday that Beijing is turning its attention to the Northwest Passage as melting ice opens up Arctic sea lanes to shipping and resource exploitation, including fish, petroleum and critical minerals.
China’s designs on minerals in Canada’s North in part prompted the development of a joint U.S.-Canada strategy to reshape global critical mineral supply chains and reduce reliance on China. Beijing has moved aggressively in recent years to tighten its control of rare-earth minerals, which are crucial for manufacturing high-tech and military products.
“We should not underestimate at all that threat of resource exploitation in the Arctic by China in particular,” Ms. Thomas told the conference.
“China has a voracious appetite and will stop at nothing to feed itself, and the Arctic is one of the last domains and regions left and we have to understand it and exploit it and more quickly than they can exploit it.”
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