The U.S. Embassy in Iceland might be 70 people. Europe’s largest presence is France, with only a 20 person embassy. Why would China need one with 500 people?
The answer? Natural resources. Aluminum, rare earth metals, oil, gas, copper, gold, and possibly diamonds are irresistible wealth opportunities in the Arctic region. Melting ice will give way to new mega-mining operations like never seen before.
Then Mr. Degeorges answered his own question about China’s need — or desire — for such a large embassy in Reykjavik: “It gives you the long-term perspective that you can expect in Iceland.”
Everyone is jostling for space in the melting Arctic these days, it seems, as my colleague Elisabeth Rosenthal recently reported. That includes China, which has no Arctic territory.
Yet as the Arctic ice cap melts, it is revealing riches — principally minerals, including important rare earths, but also water, oil and gas. Greenland potentially has up to 10 percent of the world’s freshwater reserves, Mr. Degeorges said.