Chinese firm pulls out of $420m Greenland airports scheme, citing visa troubles

Chinese state-owned contractor China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) has withdrawn its bid to build airport projects in Greenland, a local newspaper reports.

CCCC was shortlisted along with other companies for the $420m scheme last March, prompting concern within Denmark over its alliance with the US, which maintains Thule Air Base on Greenland’s northwest coast (pictured in 1955). 

CCCC’s deputy general manager Debin Song told newspaper Sermitsiaq that CCCC had problems getting visas for its engineers, and that, faced with difficulties in getting staff to the country, it could not bid on equal terms. 

An autonomous country within the Danish realm, Greenland’s government controls most domestic matters, but foreign and security policy is handled by Copenhagen.

China is interested in the Arctic Ocean, where shipping is on the rise with the retreat of sea ice due to global warming.

In January 2018 it published plans to develop a "Polar Silk Road" to halve sailing time between Asia and Europe.

When CCCC made the shortlist last year, a high-ranking Danish government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the government was "deeply concerned".

"China has no business in Greenland. Denmark has a big responsibility to live up to with regards to our closest ally, the US," the official said.

The deadline for submitting final bids is 14 June, Reuters reports. 

Image: America’s 74th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Thule Air Base in 1955 (Public domain)

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