Greenland is an interesting place – it is 100 times the size of Wales but with the population of Merthyr. While nominally independent, it remains part of the Kingdom of Denmark, yet is one of the few territories to have ever left the European Union.

So I am sure that many people like myself were puzzled by Donald Trump’s bizarre suggestion that he might buy Greenland. But while he might act like a petulant idiot most of the time, he is surrounded by a clever team of advisors who would have placed this idea in his mind – and for good reason.

Belts & Roads

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, China has undergone a massive economic revolution in recent years. Its economy has been growing by more than 10% per year and by the year 2030 will overtake the USA to become the world’s largest economy.

But its growth is limited by domestic demand and a shortage of raw materials, and so to address this it has set up a series of initiatives known as the Silk Road Economic Belt & 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to expand its reach across Asia, the Middle East, and into Europe. It has made significant investments in infrastruture – building railway lines across Central Asia and ports around the Indian Ocean – and many countries in East Africa have been effectively recolonised by Chinese investment.

The objective of these new ‘Silk Roads’ is to make it easier for China to export its goods to European markets, and also to provide sources of raw material.

The Ice Road

In addition to the existing ‘Belt and Road’ initiatives, China has recognised the Arctic as a prime area for developing sources of raw materials and has already invested heavily in the Yamal LNG and Arctic 2 LNG plants in northern Russia to secure gas supplies. This new development focus has been dubbed the IceRoad.

But China has not limited its ambitions to the Russian Arctic – it has also set its sights on Greenland as a gateway to the Arctic and its huge untapped mineral and energy resources.  This is the real reason that America wanted to buy Greenland – to keep the Chinese out!

The Welsh Connection

So what has this to do with Wales? If the Chinese are to establish themselves in Greenland, then they will need a convenient staging port.  What better location than Milford Haven?

I am not suggesting that we sell Pembrokeshire to China, but we need to be aware of new opportunities that will develop in the changing world order in the years ahead. An independent Wales will need all the support we can find and I would prefer Chinese infrastrucure investment than a Trump golf resort!

1 thought on “Chinese Whispers

  1. Another very perceptive article from you Mike, once again going behind the headlines to an extent that anyone would be hard pushed to find in any other Welsh political blog.

    Of course, the fact that Greenland is under Danish sovereignty at all is a consequence of the Mediaeval Warm Period, when temperatures in Greenland were at least as warm – possibly much warmer – than they are today. And if Trump’s attempt to buy it from them were successful, then it wouldn’t be the first time that the US has expanded its territory by purchasing land from other countries. Much of the Mississippi basin was purchased from France in 1803, nearly doubling the size of the US while greatly helping the French war effort against the British during the Napoleonic wars; and Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, a transaction which I’m quite sure that the Russians have regretted many times over. In neither case do I imagine that the people native to either area were consulted.

    Whether the Greenlanders would prefer to belong to the US, Denmark or make a go of things themselves is a matter for them – but I don’t think anyone would benefit from China sticking its oar in. And I wouldn’t want Wales to become a Chinese vassal any more than an English or European one.

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