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The way I understand it, the 'high seas vs. internal waters' issues is a UN Law of the Seas convention (which I don't think the US is a signatory to anyway). We claim the NWP as internal water, to which the US disagrees, but we allow them passage anyway provided they call us first (that may no longer be in place). It's a little awkward for them to complain if China wants to go for a cruise through it. If the US formally supported our claim, it would cost them nothing.If I remember correctly that is already the status quo, and why they set it up that way several, several decades ago.
If Canada went along and recognized it as international waters, it would allow the Chinese and Russians to sail ships through there legally. The same way the US sails between China and Taiwan now.
The reason the NW Passage isn’t international waters is precisely because of what you suggested. They know they can access it anytime without question, but nobody else can. (Unless sub surface.)
Smarter politicians than the current lot made some good decisions way back when, that we benefit from today
(Anybody notice how quickly Pompeo STFU about that suggestion of his, after he made it? Almost like someone took him aside and explained some things to him)
Quite frankly, if China wanted to get really frisky, they could find a shallow spot, dredge an island and claim it, removing the 'near Arctic' ambiguity.