By Christoph Seidler
You didn’t hear much Chinese spoken on the Mackenzie River until the summer of 1999. But then excitement swept through the sleepy Tuktoyaktuk settlement in Canada’s Northwest Territories, when a vast ship with a crew from the Asia-Pacific unexpectedly docked in the port. Local authorities were caught off-guard by the arrival of the research icebreaker Xue Long, which means “snow dragon.” The vessel — 170 meters (550 feet) long and weighing 21,000 metric tons — had in fact informed faraway Ottawa of its intention to sail into Canada’s arctic waters, but the message hadn’t been passed on.
Today, such an incident probably wouldn’t happen. States around the North Pole keep careful and regular watch on visitors from China. Its “growing interest in the region raises concern — even alarm —