Friday, November 08, 2013
China Reaches North and South
China is determined to become a polar player - in the Arctic and in Antarctica. Beijing is now sending its massive icebreaker, Snow Dragon, on a 155-day expedition to Antarctica, its 30th trip to the continent. While there the scientists aboard will establish China's fourth Antarctic research station.
China is hunting for mineral wealth beneath the Antarctic ice cap and although exploitation is prohibited by treaty until 2048, the Chinese are not trying to conceal their intentions.
Article seven of Antarctica's Protocol on Environmental Protection stipulates that activity relating to mineral resources, other than scientific research, is prohibited. But this ruling, up for review in 2048, allows geological surveillance. "It is necessary for us to fully understand the resources on the continent," says Guo Peiqiang, a professor of law and politics at the Ocean University of China. "China's exploration of the continent is like playing chess. It's important to have a position in the global game. We don't know when play will happen, but it's necessary to have a foothold."
China also has aggressive designs on the Arctic, i.e. in our backyard.