There had been an outrage in Washington when Chinese ships sailed near the Arctic last autumn, even though they had broken no rules and crossed no borders. 

During a routine patrol of the Bering Sea, north of Alaska, a Coast Guard cutter sighted a guided missile cruiser and two Chinese ships with four Russian vessels traveling in formation. The cutter followed until they split up and scattered.

China has apparently been attempting to gain a foothold in the Arctic for years to gain access to its mineral resources and shipping routes and a greater voice in Arctic policy. The United States and several other NATO countries surround the region, which includes China’s strategic presence.

China’s Arctic operations, goals, and repercussions for regional stability are the subject of a study by RAND and the Swedish Defence Research Agency. The study determined that China’s activities in the Arctic have been limited, but not for want of effort.