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  • (dramatic music)

  • - [Instructor] This map shows the amount of ice

  • around the North pole decreasing rapidly over the years.

  • And as the sea ice steadily melts in the Arctic,

  • the U.S., China, and Russia are stepping up their game

  • in the remote and inhospitable region

  • that's rich in resources

  • and growing in strategic importance.

  • (speaking in foreign language)

  • - There are other people coming into the Arctic

  • and we don't like it.

  • (speaking in foreign language)

  • - It's an untapped area of mineral resources

  • that China would like to explore one day.

  • - Russia has moved quite quickly in the last two years

  • to really boost its military presence in the Arctic.

  • - Greenland allows for trans navigation

  • from Europe to the United States.

  • It provides a place where you can refuel ships,

  • refuel planes, have storage spaces.

  • - [Instructor] An estimated trillion dollars

  • worth of rare earth metals could be lying

  • under all that ice,

  • as well as about 30% of the world's undiscovered gas

  • and 13% of the world's undiscovered oil.

  • The warmer Arctic is also extending the season

  • when ships can navigate in these usually ice covered waters,

  • potentially reducing navigation time

  • between Shanghai and New York,

  • by as much as seven days

  • and making tourism and cargo shipment more attractive.

  • (mortar firing)

  • All this is setting the stage for potential clashes.

  • Almost 10% of Russia's GDP and 20% of its exports

  • come from north of the Arctic circle.

  • And Moscow says it's ready to defend its territory.

  • - The military infrastructure has really been successfully

  • increased in the last several years.

  • (airplane engine jets roaring)

  • One of Russia's most northern base

  • can now handle jet fighters.

  • And that's a huge jump from where it was a couple years ago.

  • - [Instructor] And this activity

  • hasn't gone unnoticed in Washington.

  • - Russia's unique, it actually deserves special attention.

  • - Any signs that Russia is trying to reclaim its status

  • as a great power on the global stage.

  • And especially in a place like the Arctic,

  • which has disputes, is a cause for worry of Washington.

  • I think largely because of that lack of trust.

  • - [Instructor] Russia is also investing

  • to renovate old Soviet ports

  • along its Northern sea route.

  • Cargo shipments, mainly of energy resources

  • are steadily growing,

  • but with little infrastructure

  • and given the still limited period of time

  • between July and November

  • that the route in the Arctic is open,

  • there's still a long way before

  • it becomes a real rival to traditional shipping routes

  • like via the Suez canal.

  • - Right now there's a relatively large gap

  • between what Russia wants to accomplish in the Arctic

  • but it is actually doing.

  • One of the biggest problems right now is infrastructure.

  • So it wants to attract it's international investors.

  • That includes China.

  • (speaking in foreign language)

  • - [Instructor] In 2018, China declared itself

  • a near Arctic state,

  • even though the northern most part of China

  • is more than 900 miles away from the Arctic circle.

  • Basically China plans to carve out shipping routes

  • and tap natural resources.

  • - When China announced a similar strategy,

  • Russia at least verbally welcomed it,

  • but there are still a lot of reservation.

  • (shouting in foreign language)

  • - [Instructor] Western capital and technology

  • in the country dried up

  • following versus annexation of Crimea in 2014.

  • So Moscow has accepted billions of dollars from Beijing

  • in loans and investments,

  • including for the landmark gas project

  • on the Yamal Peninsula.

  • But China's investments are mostly limited to projects

  • that can help it exploit resources.

  • - China doesn't want to just invest

  • for the sake of investing

  • 'cause it wants to actually see a profit come from that.

  • - [Instructor] There's another sticking point

  • between Russia and China and the Arctic.

  • - Russia would want its own icebreakers to accompany

  • most of the vessels.

  • China on the other hand would like fewer navigation

  • where China would need to rely on Russian escorts.

  • And so that's the fundamental, is agreements.

  • - Essentially it's large real estate deal.

  • Lot of things could be done.

  • - [Instructor] Most of the world woke up

  • to the U.S. interest in the Arctic

  • when president Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland,

  • the biggest Island in the region,

  • and which is the site

  • of America's northernmost military base.

  • Denmark, which exercises control over Greenland

  • turned down the idea.

  • So after a decades long hiatus,

  • the U.S. reopened its consulate

  • in Greenland's capital in June.

  • During an interview

  • with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation,

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

  • admitted that the U.S. is playing catch up.

  • - Secretary, are you a bit late to the party

  • in the Arctic. - Yep we're a little late.

  • - Yeah-- - But that's all right

  • I've been late to parties before and had a great time.

  • We'll succeed.

  • - The United States, for instance,

  • has a presence in the Arctic with newly launched Navy fleet

  • that's just a continuation of making sure that

  • that other great powers know that the U.S.

  • isn't losing a step

  • and is able to fight in extreme cold weather battlefields.

  • - We've all been a little bit naive

  • to watch, not only the Russians

  • but the Chinese interest there

  • continue to become more and more aggressive.

  • (audience applauds)

  • - [Instructor] China and Russia insist

  • that they support peaceful economic

  • and scientific cooperation in the region.

  • Meanwhile, Washington is trying to

  • build up its fleet of icebreakers.

  • - We have under construction right now,

  • the largest icebreaker in the world,

  • and we're going to be trying to get, if we can,

  • an extra 10 ice icebreakers.

  • - [Instructor] At the moment,

  • the U.S. has only one old heavy icebreaker in operation

  • compared with Russia, some 40 vessels,

  • including nuclear ones that can smash through ice

  • nine feet thick.

  • China has two icebreakers as well,

  • and it's building a nuclear one.

  • - Ice breakers do a number of things

  • for a country that has that has them.

  • One it keeps open commercial ice channels

  • and allows for the rescue of vessels.

  • If the U.S. is unable to send up a rescue team,

  • other great powers like Russia,

  • and even China can go up there, save people

  • and they'll have a better claim

  • to be able to stay in the Arctic.

  • - [Instructor] For the U.S., China, and Russia,

  • it's a pivotal moment in the Arctic.

  • The moves they make today are likely to define the region

  • for years to come and potentially help reshape

  • global supply chains and energy markets.

(dramatic music)

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High-Stakes Arctic Race Heats Up for U.S., Russia and China | WSJ

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    joey joey posted on 2021/06/12
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