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!