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Colorful houses of the coastal town of Ilulissat in western Greenland, June 25, 2016 (Photo by Patrick Pleul for DPA via AP Images).

The Costs of Keeping Greenland in the West’s Orbit

Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018

Last week, Denmark reached an agreement with the government of Greenland, which is an autonomous Danish territory, to fund improvements to airports on the island. The project aroused controversy when a Chinese company expressed interest and was pre-qualified to participate, a concerning development for Danish and American officials. While Denmark’s $559 million deal decreases the chances of Chinese involvement, it came at a steep political price, as it led the pro-independence Naleraq party to break away from Greenland’s ruling coalition, depriving it of its majority in Greenland’s Parliament. In an email interview, Ulrik Pram Gad, a professor of Arctic politics at Aalborg University in Denmark, discusses the political and geostrategic implications of the deal.

World Politics Review: Why is the issue of funding improvements for Greenland’s airports so controversial, to the point where it would cause a political crisis in the territory? ...

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