Finnish national broadcaster Yle asked experts for their views on suggestions that China may have deliberately damaged the Balticconnector gas pipeline. However, they believe that China would have had more to lose than gain by doing so.
The possible involvement of a Chinese container ship in the rupturing of the Balticconnector pipeline between Estonia and Finland raises more questions than answers.
On Tuesday, the Finnish Border Guard said that an anchor was found at the bottom of the sea in the vicinity of the Balticconnector. The investigation is now focusing on a Chinese container ship, which had been in the area.
Teivo Teivainen, professor of world politics at the University of Helsinki, said that damaging the gas pipeline would be likely to cause political tensions.
"If it turns out to have been a deliberate act, it will affect relations between China and Finland, China and the European Union, and China and NATO. Of course, there is already talk that this could trigger NATO's Article 4 procedure," Teivainen said.
Under Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which is NATO's founding document, the parties to the treaty will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened.
According to Teivainen, it is difficult to identify a reason why China may have deliberately ruptured the pipeline. In his view, China has more to lose than gain by doing so. However, he also pointed out that some China experts have highlighted how such crises are often seen as opportunities.
"They may think that by creating a new crisis through well-thought out actions, they can advance their interests a little. However, I don't see this as a real possibility for China to improve its position. There is much more to lose here than to gain. But who knows, it seems strange," Teivainen said.
Juha Vuori, professor of international politics at the University of Turku, also believes it is more likely that China did not want to damage the pipeline. "It's very unusual to destroy a foreign country's infrastructure far from your own territorial waters, it's hard to see what China would have wanted to achieve here," Vuori said.
Vuori added that the authorities are still investigating whether the act was an intentional or accidental one.
Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Elina Valtonen said that she had met with the Chinese Ambassador to Finland in Helsinki. "China has been very cooperative. We hope the investigation will progress well," Valtonen said.
Editor: Michael Cole