The Norwegian government has called off a plan to sell the last privately owned piece of land on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard in order to prevent its acquisition by China.

The remote Sore Fagerfjord property in south-west Svalbard – 60 sq miles (sq km) of mountains, plains and a glacier – was on sale for €300m (£277m).

The archipelago is located halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, in an Arctic region that has become a geopolitical and economic hotspot as the ice melts and relations grow ever frostier between Russia and the west.

Svalbard is governed under an unusual legal framework that allows foreign entities to gain footholds in the region.