Third world thaw: Melting ice in the Arctic could allow China’s navy to take on NATO in the Atlantic within 20 years, defense chiefs warn
The melting of the Arctic ice sheet could allow the Chinese navy to engage NATO in the Atlantic in the next two decades, defense chiefs have warned.
Beijing’s nuclear submarine fleet can routinely blast the Northwest Passage through the Arctic much sooner if the ice thins, which could pose a threat to the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
The warning comes amid alarm over increasingly close ties between China and Russia.
Yesterday, Beijing revealed that President Xi Jinping will make a rare trip out of China next week for a summit in Russia with Vladimir Putin.
Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “China is a threat to us and the more we try to reduce that, the more China thinks we are weak and the more emboldened they become.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with representatives of national role models in the field of emergency management and loyal guards in the firefighting sector at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
“This warning from the Navy is the latest in a series of warnings that should have set off alarm bells and should lead to much greater investment in defense.
“Instead, we’ve seen an update to the Integrated Review that still says we’re going to deal with China with sound pragmatism, all because we’re terrified of losing on trade. They are laughing at us.
Currently, the sea route through the Arctic is navigable for only a few weeks of the year in summer.
Most submarines can operate under the ice for short periods, but only the most advanced can travel beneath the thick layers of the North Pole, which present some of the harshest conditions in the world.
A Chinese People’s Liberation Army nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine
A view of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) Navy guided-missile destroyer Nanning (162) during joint Iran-Russia-China naval military exercises in the Gulf of Oman
Russian and American submarines routinely operate in the Arctic, and British ships have conducted exercises there.
Western intelligence sources do not believe that China has developed the capability to date.
However, Navy chiefs now believe that a combination of thinning polar ice and advancing Chinese submarine technology could allow Beijing to deploy its massive submarine fleet to the Atlantic within a few years, when conditions are likely to be less challenging.