The Arctic: China Opens a New Strategic Front

The Arctic: China Opens a New Strategic Front

For the first time since American and Soviet missiles silently faced off across the vast, icy expanse of their northernmost Arctic territories during the Cold War, the Arctic is again becoming a strategic concern.

As global climate change forces both permanent and seasonal sea ice to recede, the world is gaining what amounts to a brand new ocean -- one that has never been fished, rarely navigated, and has waters that are thought to be rich with natural resources. In 2009, the United States Geological Survey estimated that the Arctic contains over 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and some 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids -- of which the USGS estimates a whopping 84 percent may lay offshore.

But just how far offshore is the question.

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