President Xi Jinping waves to the crew of Chinese icebreaker Xuelong during his visit to Hobart, Australia, on Nov 18. Xi stopped in the Australian state of Tasmania after attending the G20 Summit in Brisbane over the weekend. [Photo by Li Xueren/Xinhua]
Memorandum with Australia will expand cooperation at South Pole
China and Australia vowed to deepen cooperation in Antarctica with a memorandum of understanding signed on Nov 18.
The memorandum was signed in the presence of President Xi Jinping and Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Hobart, Australia, when Xuelong, China’s only icebreaker, was berthed at the port city to take on supplies on its 31st mission to Antarctica.
Under the memorandum, a joint committee that will meet every two years will be established to oversee the cooperation, and a mechanism for environmental, policy, scientific and operational collaboration in Antarctica will be built, according to the Australian Antarctic Division.
A platform for Antarctic official and academic exchanges will be established, according to the memorandum, under which Australia would be a gateway to Antarctica.
Xi said China would like to continue to cooperate with Australia and other nations to further know, protect and explore Antarctica.
He added that scientific research in the Antarctic region is important work that will benefit mankind, and China has contributed to peaceful use of the continent.
The Australian Antarctic Division said on its website on Nov 18 that it looks forward to working with China in expanding the collaboration in Antarctic and Southern Ocean affairs.
Xi and Abbott visited an exhibition on Antarctic scientific research in Australia and talked to expeditioners in Australia’s Davis station and China’s Zhongshan station via video link.
Later, Xi went aboard Xuelong, visiting a photo exhibition recording China’s Antarctic expeditions in the past 30 years.
Chen Danhong, director of the International Cooperation Division under the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, said the memorandum sends an important signal that cooperation will deepen.
“The two countries will increase data sharing and personnel exchanges in Antarctic scientific research activities and be supportive of each other in logistics and emergency and rescue,” Chen said.
She added that China and Australia have a productive relationship in Antarctic affairs, which lays a good foundation for the implementation of the memorandum.
“Antarctica involves a vast, mostly unknown area that needs international collaboration,” Chen said.
The collaboration between China and Australia can be dated to three decades ago when Australia helped facilitate China’s first visit to east Antarctica and the two nations provided support in logistics and emergency and rescue over the years.
China has three stations and one summer camp on the frozen continent and Australia has three Antarctic stations.
The Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration and the Australian Antarctic Division signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2012.