UPDATED 10:10 AM PT — Monday, May 6, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a warning against China and Russia’s presence in the Arctic.
During a press conference with the Arctic Council in Finland Monday, he called out China’s aggressive attempts to establish infrastructure in the region. Pompeo pointed out Beijing only holds “observer” status in the counsel, and does not have the right to push their economic agenda in the area.
The U.S. secretary of state said given China’s poor track record with emissions, its attempts to establish an economic foothold in the Arctic could do major harm to the environment.
“Do we want the Arctic Ocean to transform into a new South China Sea, fraught with militarization and competing territorial claims?” he asked. “Do we want the fragile Arctic environment exposed to the same ecological devastation caused by China’s fishing fleet in the seas off its coast or unregulated industry activity in its own country?”
Pompeo pivoted to blast Russia’s attempts to unlawfully police foreign vessels along the Arctic coastline. He also said the Kremlin’s attempts to expand its military in the region could lead to territorial conflicts.