Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen said she trusts Chinese authorities to assist Finland in its investigation into the Baltic Sea gas pipeline damage, which Helsinki suspects was carried out by Chinese boat Newnew Polar Bear.
“Now that the vessel has indeed arrived in China, there will be joint action together with the Chinese authorities and the Finnish ones and probably also the Estonian ones to investigate,” Valtonen told POLITICO in an interview Friday.
“On a diplomatic level, China has promised their assistance for the investigation and we trust them to help us out in this, that we have a thorough and transparent investigation,” she added.
A Finnish probe has identified Chinese container ship Newnew Polar Bear as the primary suspect in the rupture of the Balticconnector, a 77-kilometer-long gas pipeline that connects the NATO members Estonia and Finland beneath the Baltic Sea.
Since the ship was singled out as a suspect, Finland and Estonia have been in touch with Chinese authorities seeking their cooperation with the probe. The Baltic Times reported earlier this week that the two European countries have asked to send representatives to Beijing to investigate the vessel, which reached the Chinese port city of Tianjin this week.
Valtonen said Friday the investigation into the vessel “has not taken place yet,” but she expects that “there will be more information within a few days.”
Authorities have yet to determine whether the incident was accidental or intentional, but Finnish and Estonian public officials and military personnel have largely speculated that it might be an intentional act of sabotage.