China's Wen in Iceland, eyes on Arctic riches

Discussion in 'China' started by cir, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. cir

    cir Senior Member Senior Member

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    By Mia Shanley

    REYKJAVIK | Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:07pm EDT

    REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - China signed accords on energy cooperation and the Arctic in Iceland on Friday as Premier Wen Jiabao started a tour of northern Europe that will focus on Chinese investment in a continent eager for funds and to trade with the rising world power.

    Centrepiece of the trip will be a visit to Germany, where Wen and Chancellor Angela Merkel will on Sunday and Monday burnish industrial ties that have done much for both economies.

    That the prime minister of the world's most populous nation should stop first, however, on a remote island of just 320,000 has raised hopes for an injection of Chinese cash into an economy ravaged by the bursting of a financial bubble in 2008 - but also suspicion of Beijing's hunger for natural resources.

    A Chinese developer is fighting a government decision last year to bar him from buying a vast tract of land which some had suggested might be a cover for a possible future naval base and part of a wider strategy to gain a foothold in the region.

    Over two days, Wen, who trained as a geologist, will see volcanic geysers and electricity plants where Iceland captures geothermal energy.

    Friday's meetings between Wen and Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir resulted in agreements to cooperate in the Arctic region, in marine and polar science and in geothermal energy.

    Orka Energy Ltd - an Icelandic firm focused on producing geothermal energy - and China's Sinopec Group also signed a deal to develop geothermal energy in China for heating houses and the production of electricity, though no figures were provided.

    As well as Germany, where he will open the annual Hanover trade fair with Merkel on Sunday and visit carmaker Volkswagen on Monday, Wen will also go to Poland and to Sweden, where the Chinese-owned Volvo car plant is on the schedule for Tuesday.

    Among discussions on investment and industrial projects - VW is expected to announce plans to build a new plant in China - the Chinese leader is also likely to hear pleas for Beijing to drop its resistance to Western efforts to impose U.N. sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    But by starting with a full-scale visit to Iceland, Wen has fuelled European concern that China might be trying to exploit the country's economic troubles to gain a strategic foothold in the North Atlantic and Arctic region.

    The area has big reserves of oil, gas, gold, diamonds, zinc and iron. And with global warming melting polar ice, it may offer world powers new shipping routes - and naval interests - for the trade between Asia, Europe and America's east coast.

    "When it comes to the Arctic, we always have China on our mind," said one European diplomat from the Nordic region, who spoke to Reuters this week on condition of anonymity.

    ARCTIC FOOTHOLD?

    Last year, Iceland's government rejected a plan by multi-millionaire Chinese developer Huang Nubo to build a sprawling tourist resort in the northeast corner of the chilly island, saying it did not meet legal requirements on foreign ownership.

    A livid Huang, who went to university with Icelanders, said the decision revealed Western "hypocrisy" and that foreigners wrongly assumed Chinese firms had ties to China's military.

    Huang is still pursuing the project and is in the midst of negotiating a new plan with Icelandic municipalities in which he would instead lease the property. People close to him say he may get a green light in weeks.

    But conspiracy theories over why such an Asian giant would be interested in such a small nation abound.

    "Given China's investment pattern around the globe, people have asked questions. Why are doing this? Is there some ulterior motive?" said Embla Eir Oddsdottir at the Stefansson Arctic Institute.

    "For next decade they are going to be battling some sort of suspicion as to their motive, because people have a tendency to link them to some type of regime."

    About a dozen protesters gathered outside the building in Reykjavik where the Chinese and Icelanders held their talks. When the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited a decade ago, several hundred Falun Gong and human rights activists staged protests.

    Many had expected China to raise the issue of gaining observer status in the Arctic Council, which comprises Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, the United States and Denmark, all of them nations with territory inside the Arctic Circle.

    With ice receding faster than many had expected, some estimates suggest the polar ice cap might disappear completely during the summer season as soon as 2040, perhaps much earlier.

    That could slash the journey time from Europe and the east coast of North America to Chinese and Japanese ports by well over a week, possibly taking traffic from the southern Suez Canal route.

    "These are pretty big stakes," Oddsdottir of the Stefansson Institute in Iceland said. "I wonder if under the surface the race is already there, to gain a foothold in the Arctic."

    TRADE, INVESTMENT

    China has sought to assuage worries.

    "China is willing to make contributions towards the peace, stability and sustainable development of the Arctic region, and it is on that basis that China seeks cooperation with Iceland," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao told reporters this week.

    Free trade negotiations were discussed earlier on Friday between Iceland's foreign minister and China's trade minister.

    Iceland was the first European country to start free trade talks with China, though the process was suspended in 2009 as the crisis-hit nation applied to join the European Union.

    Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson said a new round of talks should be held as soon as possible and that reductions in tariffs on fish be implemented immediately upon the signing of an agreement, or earlier.

    In 2011, trade reached $151 million, up 35 percent on the year. China exports mostly coke, clothing, shoes, textiles and ships to Iceland, while Iceland exports mostly fish to China.

    China also wants cooperate on geothermal power and other scientific research in fields such as the Northern Lights.

    In Poland, a government official said Wen's visit may include discussions about Chinese interest in investing in roads, banks and the energy sector in a former Communist country which was growing faster than western Europe.

    (Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Erik Kirschbaum in Berlin and Alistair Scrutton in Stockholm; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

    China's Wen in Iceland, eyes on Arctic riches | Reuters
     
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  3. cir

    cir Senior Member Senior Member

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    China, Iceland announce deal on oil-rich Arctic

    April 22, 2012 RECORDER REPORT

    China and Iceland announced a deal on the oil-rich Arctic region Friday after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao flew in to Reykjavik on the first stage of a four-nation European tour.

    The deal was part of a package of six agreements signed on the first day of the Chinese premier's visit to the country, during which he held talks with his Icelandic counterpart Johanna Sigurdardottir.



    The Arctic's oil reserves were high on the agenda for energy-hungry China during the high-powered delegation's visit to Iceland - though Sigurdardottir touted the Arctic deal as a research collaboration.

    "These agreements will provide various opportunities for increased co-operation on research between Icelandic and Chinese scientists in this area," her office said on its website.


    Iceland's strategic location near the Arctic has not gone unnoticed in China, the world's biggest energy consumer: the shrinking of the polar ice cap is making the region's mineral resources more accessible.

    The retreat of the ice has also opened up the potential for a shorter cargo shipping route with Asia, which would cut the sea voyage between Shanghai and northern Europe by some 6,400 kilometres (4,000 miles).


    China's interest in Iceland came to the fore last year when a Chinese property tycoon tried to buy a large swathe of land in the north of the country for a tourism project.

    Some observers suggested property magnate Huang Nubo's purchase would help China win a foothold in the Arctic, amid general concern over Chinese investment in Europe.


    That deal was eventually blocked by the Icelandic government, after officials there said China had mooted using the island as a trans-Arctic shipping port.

    Wen's visit is the first to Iceland by a Chinese premier.

    Sigurdardottir used the occasion to give Beijing a diplomatic nudge over human rights concerns.

    Sigurdardottir had "also discussed human rights issues, civil rights and international commitments," her office said.


    "The prime minister and premier agreed to enhance relations and co-operation on gender equality in the near future." Besides the Arctic co-operation agreement, the two sides signed five other accords with 11 ministers and deputy ministers accompanying the Chinese leader.


    They included agreements on geothermal sciences; marine and polar sciences; geothermal research; and a solar project in Iceland.

    Iceland's Orka Energy signed a deal with China Petrochemical Corporation of the Sinopec Group on using geothermal energy in China for heating homes and generating electricity.

    As part of its ambitions in the polar region, Beijing is seeking permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum promoting co-operation among eight states bordering the region.

    Those nations include Iceland and Sweden, which Wen is also visiting during his eight-day tour of Europe.

    http://www.brecorder.com/market-data/stocks-a-bonds/0/1180803/
     
  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    The competition for resources continues with China spreading it's hegemonic tentacles.
    When did Iceland own the Arctic?
     
  5. cir

    cir Senior Member Senior Member

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    The Associated Press April 16, 2012, 07:52AM ET

    China says has Swedish backing on Arctic Council

    BEIJING

    China has the support of Sweden to become a permanent observer at the eight-member Arctic Council, part of Beijing's plan to seek a more active role in the region, a deputy Chinese foreign minister said Monday.

    China has economic and scientist interests in the Arctic and will further its cooperation with Arctic countries to promote stability and development in the region, Song Tao told reporters at a briefing on Premier Wen Jiabao's upcoming visits to Iceland, Sweden, Germany and Poland.

    "China applauds Swedish support for China to be an observer to the Arctic Council," Song said.

    Iceland and Sweden are members of the Arctic Council, an eight-nation grouping that addresses Arctic issues.

    Song said China wants to explore geothermal energy and study the North Pole and northern lights in the Arctic. Analysts say China is also interested in new Arctic shipping routes.

    China has one icebreaker, the Snow Dragon, and plans to add a 8,000-ton vessel in 2014, according to China analysts Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins.

    A recent decision by Denmark to prioritize its economic relationship with China is allowing Beijing to expand its presence in the resource-rich Arctic, Erickson and Collins wrote in a January article for the China Real Time Report.

    Wen expects to sign an agreement on energy conservation and environmental protection with Sweden and will seek further economic ties with Iceland, Song said. Wen's visit is the first by a Chinese premier to Iceland in 40 years.

    China says has Swedish backing on Arctic Council - BusinessWeek
     
  6. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Again what make China think they own the Arctic?
     
  7. cir

    cir Senior Member Senior Member

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    More Chinese heading to Reykjavik

    Updated: 2012-04-22 07:35

    By Mike Peters (China Daily)


    [​IMG]
    The aurora borealis, or northern lights, add drama to the landscape at Blue Lagoon, a geothermal wonder in Iceland. Provided to China Daily


    From Beijing, Iceland's ambassador to China likes to say, "You can be in a steaming spa in Reykjavik in 12 hours!"

    She probably didn't need to tell China's most famous geologist, Premier Wen Jiabao, about the promise of Iceland's hot rocks before he flew to Reykjavik on Friday. And while the Chinese leader's schedule was probably too full to allow him to head straight for the steam, the volcanic island attracts a growing number of Chinese tourists who do just that.

    Last year almost 9,000 Chinese came to Iceland on tourist visas, says Ambassador Kristin A. Arnadottir. That was an increase of about 80 percent over the previous year, and the latest figures compiled by the embassy suggest the trend continues. For the first three months of this year, Chinese tourists to the country were up 83 percent, a rate of growth not registered by any other foreign nationality.

    So why are more Chinese going there?

    "Because Iceland is the most beautiful and amazing country in the world," says embassy culture and trade representative Haflidi Saevarsson with a wide grin.

    "And because patterns of Chinese tourism changing." Chinese visitors to Iceland have typically come as part of a bigger tour, but as more affluent Chinese become well-traveled, "they look for destinations where they can relax and have a slower, more meaningful experience" instead of racing from museums to cathedrals across Europe's biggest cities.

    "Iceland is a fairly big island and it's the size of Jiangsu province," he says. "So you really need a week to see it all. Those around-the-island tours are now being offered in China, and there are more flights available from China to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki." Those capitals are all a commuter flight away from Reykjavik.

    Geysers including the original "geysir" that is the namesake of all of nature's hot-water fountains in the world - are popular attractions easily reached from the capital. Eruptions at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 meters in the air, though eruptions can be infrequent.

    Another geothermal wonder is Blue Lagoon. Because this famous hot spring is on a peninsula, says the embassy's Saevarsson, groundwater is soaked with seawater, so mineral content of the lower layer of the soil is higher. That gives the spa a reputation for therapeutic effects, making it particularly popular with Chinese tourist groups, who enjoy the spacelike landscape and white-colored water on the lava field.

    Other attractions are served up at normal temperatures. Gullfoss waterfall is a photographer's delight, while historians enjoy day trips to Thingvellir, where the world's first parliament was established around 930 (lawmakers continued to convene there until 1798).

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/sunday/2012-04/22/content_15107642.htm
     
  8. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    what does chinese going to a spa on vacation have anything to do with this thread?
     
  9. CherrywoodHunter

    CherrywoodHunter Regular Member

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    QQ more? LOL

    Please check Svalbard Treaty. India is also one of the signatory countries. If India feels exploring Arctic is of her interest, go right ahead to jump the bandwagon.

    Actually not only Iceland, but also Denmark wants China to participate Arctic exploration.
    Denmark welcomes China in from the Arctic cold | Reuters
    So please don't act surprised or pissed. China is an oil-thirsty and cash-flooded country with very strong shipbuilding industry. China is invited because China is needed. It's time for our proactive investment to pay off. Two decades ago we started importing icebreaker technologies from Russia and Ukraine. Our brand-new icebreaker is about to set sail. We have a long-term plan and we implement it. Nothing is unfair.
     
  10. panduranghari

    panduranghari Senior Member Senior Member

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    All the raw materials will pass through the straits of .....?
     
  11. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Iceland requires money badly.

    Wen will give it to them!

    Sold to the highest bidder!

    Going, going......gone!

    To that gentleman in the back row from China, I think!
     
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  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    China is an oil thirsty, blood thirsty nation?

    Not at all.

    She only looks at her legitimate needs!
     
  13. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    HUH ?

    HI Ray-ji ...... firstly I object to your referring to prc-chicom as "her" - there's nothing feminine or finesse about "them" heheheheheheheh

    secondly - their legitimate needs = bloodthirsty = do i needd to remind us all about the blood spilt in '62 ??

    and if i seem to be going a bit way back ( all the way to '62 ) let me ask ANY Indian or NRI member on this forum if any REAL progress or concession has been made by prc-chicom since that time ? my opinion is NONE - so status quo remains as at '62 = they spilled our blood for their "legitimate" needs !
     
  14. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India is a signatory along with a few dozen members so don't act like you own the world.
     
  15. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    oh ..HAH ....sarcastic ! eh ? heheehehehe
     
  16. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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  17. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    Hey there LF - good to be back eh ?
    while i "might " ...Know where youre coming from , the reality of the situation is that the russian federation i.e Putin & Co. have since the early 2000 ( remember the Kursk submarine incident ? ) "proven" that there is a physical sub-marine link between the russian mainland and the ARTIC sub-marine geo-plate, planted their flag on that sub-marine trench and claimed that because of the physical link under international law , the arctic therfore belongs to them. ..... that left out canada and on the other side of the globe, the scandinavians , from any possibility of ownership .

    what prc-chicom has seemingly succesfully done is to ride on the legitimate concerns of the scandinavians and offer financial and i suppose later military backing - some kind of a massive force behind the scandinavians

    so while the scandi's dont particularly love the chicoms ( believe me ) they nevertheless would find it very tempting to accept ( at least temporarily), their offers of "support " ....of course the chicoms would want some things in return

    - now i wonder what those might be ? perhaps more prc-chicom "tourism" to iceland and the scandi countries and then "permanent" residence then citizenship, then " chinese Take-away " ?? or rather take-over ??

    perhaps that also answers your other question of what chicom tourism has to do with this thread ?
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
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  18. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    we missed you Roma, good to see you active again.
     
  19. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Why do you chaps feel anything said of Chinese means 'whole country'?

    for instance, I love Chinese cuisine (South and Sichuan).

    I find North Chinese cuisine as crap!

    Does it mean China is crap?

    No.

    It is not being childish. It is being frank!
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  20. CherrywoodHunter

    CherrywoodHunter Regular Member

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  21. J20!

    J20! Senior Member Senior Member

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    I'm guessing this to you is the ultimate in maturity and politeness:

    If I said something like this about India I'd be banned before I could say "unfair"... Its all about race here isn't it?
     

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