The U.S. government should respond to China’s interest in Iceland, according to an op-ed by former Iceland Ambassador to the U.S., NATO and the EU, Einar Benediktsson, and former US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and U.S. Ambassador to Russia and the UN, Thomas R. Pickering, published on nytimes.com today.
The Chinese polar research vessel Xue Long, which berthed in Reykjavík last August. Photo by Nadine Zweiner/Iceland Review.
The article, entitled ‘China Knocks on Iceland’s Door,’ emphasizes Iceland’s role in an increasingly important region. “Once again, Iceland has become a strategic gateway, and among the nations that are showing a growing interest in the country is China. The time has come for the United States to strengthen its relationship with Iceland.”
The authors refer to suggestions that Iceland could be an ideal place to base activities such as research, drilling and transport in a changing Arctic and that the opening up of the Northwest Passage could reduce ocean transport costs from Asia to Europe by up to 40 percent.
“China has also begun to court Iceland to help get access to the Arctic Council … The colossus China and tiny Iceland, half a world apart, are now discussing a bilateral free-trade agreement,” the authors continue.
Among Einar’s and Pickering’s suggestions are that the U.S. and Iceland collaborate more closely on Arctic issues and that the U.S. support Iceland’s efforts to obtain economic stability.
The authors also argue that the U.S. should join Norway and Iceland in joint military exercises and provide further support in search and rescue from Iceland.
“It is through such clear actions of mutual help and cooperation that Iceland can continue to ensure its full freedom and independence,” they maintain.
The full article can be read on nytimes.com.