American Conversation Starter

Andrei Marks · August 7, 2007

First article!

From the 2007-08-07 print of The Beijing Paper (新京报), on page A25. A two part article with story and reaction.

Under the heading “Great Nations Vie for the North Pole”:

American Icebreaker Sets Off for the North Pole -A response to Russia’s north pole “Flag Claim”, 140 passengers proceed northwards

In response to Russia planting its flag on the seabed at the north pole, the US Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Healy set off on the sixth for the north pole to conduct scientific observations.

On August 2nd, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Duma, Chilingarov, was a passenger aboard the submarine which placed a titanium Russian flag on the seabed at the north pole, after which the American government quickly reacted. State Department spokesperson Tom Casey announced that Russia’s actions had no legal efficacy. At the same time he announched that the icebreaker Healy would depart on the sixth to carry out a scientific investigation. It is reportated that among the 140 aboard the Healy, there are 35 scientists who will conduct the scientific study at the north pole.

Despite being the first to reach the north pole, Americans are no longer at the forefront of research there. The Healy, the heavy icebreaker that is now setting out, is one of three polar research vessels. The other two, the Polar Star and the Polar Sea, are currently under repair and have suspended operations. Previously, in May, President Bush announced, “America must maintain a definite number of polar research vessels and increase the pace of polar studies, because only in this way will we be able to protect America’s business and military interests in the Arctic. We must also carry out negotiations with other nations over the accumulation of resources.” In order to increase the pace of arctic surveying, the United States Congress is now discussing allocating US$8.7 billion to the Coast Guard, of which $100 million will be used to maintain the three existing polar research vessels. Congress is also considering the construction of two more icebreakers.


Guided Missles from the North Pole Could Reach the American Homeland in 10 Minutes</strong>

In an American organization’s survey, the arctic seabed contains 25% of the world’s petroleum and natural gas reserves, and plentiful sources of rare minerals. And because Alaska is a close neighbor of the Arctic Oceon, America also has important military interests in the north pole and surrounding area.

According to the analysis of military specialists, guided missles fired from the north pole could reach American soil within 10 minutes; although America has a radar observation system and interception installations in Alaska, within such a short time it would be very difficult to mount an adequate defense. Aside from this, as the climate across the globe becomes warmer, the Arctic Ocean may become an important shipping lane for the large northern countries.

However, America is in a disadvantageous position as it vies for its arctic interests. The north pole is currently managed under the United Nation’s “U.N. Law of the Sea Convention”, and in order to claim sovereign rights in the arctic, it is necessary to provide reasonable evidence to the United Nations. But in order to protect the freedom of its own military navigation, scouting rights, and other economic interests, the United States has still not ratified the “U.N. Law of the Sea Convention”, which places America at a disadvantage when competing for territory and resources in the Arctic.

Translator’s note: So I had to do a little background research when trying to find some of the names I didn’t recognize in Chinese. The Healy is, according to other sources not one of three but one of four polar research vessels in the American fleet. Chilingarov is a member of the Duma, and was the leader of the expedition, but I’m not sure what the equivalent translation of the Russian position was, the literal translation of the term used was “Deputy Chairman (副主席). I believe the ‘American organization’s survey’ mentioned was a US Geographical Survey.

I haven’t really been analyzing articles too in depth recently. That will change with this blog, especially if I keep to these articles about America. But from what I’ve seen of headlines are fairly typical of the above, news about America is equivalent to news about Iraq and US spending for defense or “imperialist” projects abroad. After a bit I’ll look at other newspapers, and see what they are generally like.

Comments/corrections welcome.

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