U.S. President Donald Trump has revealed his interest in buying Greenland, an autonomous region whose sovereignty is owned by Denmark and whose location makes itself an ideal location to counter China’s economic rise and Russia’s military ambitions.
President Trump tweeted Monday an edited photo of a giant Trump Tower looming over a small town in Greenland dotted with colorful houses. “I promise not to do this to Greenland!” he said. A day earlier, he had confirmed news reports that the White House was considering an idea of purchasing the icy land.
The island has the largest deposits of rare-earth metals, which are essential for high-tech products including semiconductors and lasers that form the basis of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Around 80 percent of the minerals are currently produced in China, and since the trade war broke out between the world’s two superpowers, Beijing has threatened Washington that it could halt the U.S.-bound shipment of rare-earth metals. The Guardian said that the Kvanefjeld mine is “home to many rare-earth metals” and “more than 100 million tons of ore are believed to be sitting below the surface.”
In addition, Greenland holds geopolitical significance as it is only 3,600 kilometers away from Moscow. The United States has run the Thule Air Base in the island since 1953 following its military defense agreement with Denmark. The base operates a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System designed to detect and track inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
Trump seems to intend to stress how much it costs to maintain Greenland to get Denmark to the negotiating table. Saying that Greenland was costing Denmark about 700 million U.S. dollars a year in subsidies, Trump said, “We protect Denmark like we do large portions of the world.” Before Trump, former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Harry Truman had offered to buy the island in 1867 and in 1946, respectively, all to no avail. In response to Trump’s remarks, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has said that “Greenland is not for sale.”