Greenland is courting Chinese investors and construction firms to help expand three airports, causing concerns in the Danish government that Chinese involvement on the Arctic island could upset the United States, a close ally.

Chinese interest in Greenland, a self-ruling part of the Kingdom of Denmark, comes after Beijing in January laid out ambitions to form a "Polar Silk Road" by developing shipping lanes that have been opened up by global warming and by encouraging enterprises to build infrastructure in the Arctic.

Greenland, also keen to benefit from rising Arctic activity, plans to expand the airports in the capital, Nuuk, the tourist hub in Ilulissat and at Qaqortoq in southern Greenland to allow direct flights from Europe and North America.