China pushes back against Pompeo criticism over its role in the Arctic

The statement came in response to a blistering speech from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo one day before the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi.

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China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticizing China’s conduct in the Arctic was “the complete opposite of truth” and is “confusing right and wrong.”

Speaking as he arrived in Finland for a meeting of the Arctic Council, Pompeo on Monday expressed concern over Chinese and Russian investments in the Arctic and called on both countries to act responsibly in the region.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a daily news briefing in Beijing that Pompeo’s comments “run counter to the general trend of peaceful cooperation in the Arctic,” and that China “has always had an open, positive, win-win attitude towards matters in the Arctic When it comes to Arctic issues, we continue to be a leader in scientific research, advocate environmental protection, and make reasonable use of governing conduct according to law and international cooperation.”

China has taken a more visible role in the Arctic in recent years, with the release of an Arctic policy white paper in January 2018, and investments in Russian Arctic LNG projects.

That involvement hasn’t gone unnoticed in Washington, where China was cited in the U.S. Coast Guard’s recently released Arctic strategy, as well as Defense Department reports.