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China, Australia ink Antarctic cooperation agreement
November 19, 2014, 5:07 am

A squad team of Chinese Antarctic exploration team is pictured in Antarctic on Dec. 16, 2012, before leaving for China's Kunlun station [Xinhua]

File photo of a squad team of Chinese Antarctic exploration team is pictured in Antarctic on Dec. 16, 2012, before leaving for China’s Kunlun station [Xinhua]

China and Australia on Tuesday inked a memorandum of understanding on bilateral Antarctic cooperation, raising hopes for agreement on conservation and food security in the resource-rich region.

Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott witnessed the signing of the deal in the port city of Hobart in Tasmania state, Australia’s gateway to Antarctica.

The two leaders also spoke via live video with scientists of both countries stationed at the South Pole, at Australia’s Davis Station and China’s Zhongshan Station.

“Scientific research in the Antarctic region is of great significance and benefits the human race,” Xi said.

Natural resources in the Antarctic include massive oil reserves with some projections suggesting oil fields of the Ross Sea in the region are second only to oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

Speaking highly of the comprehensive and in-depth collaboration between Chinese and Australian Antarctic researchers over the past three decades, Xi said China is willing to continue working with Australia and the international community to better understand, protect and utilize Antarctica.

The European Union and 24 nations, including Russia and China are members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

A CCAMLR meeting in Perth last month exposed the difference in approach to issues of food security and marine life conservation between China, Russia on one hand and the EU, US and Australia on the other.

The region boasts of rich reserves of fish and krill.

China opened its fourth Antarctic research station, Taishan, earlier this year, with a fifth station also being planned. The US currently has 6 stations in the Antarctic.

Approximately 30 nations operate permanent research stations in Antarctica, including the US, China, Russia, Australia, Britain, France and Argentina.

After the signing ceremony on Tuesday in Australia, Xi met Chinese scientists on board the Chinese research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, which is berthing at Hobart port for replenishment.

The vessel, which set out from Shanghai late last month, is undertaking China’s 31st Antarctic expedition. It is scheduled to return in April next year.

The Chinese president is on a state visit to Australia after attending a G20 summit in Brisbane. Australia is the first leg of his ongoing three-nation tour, which will later take him to New Zealand and Fiji.

 

TBP and Agencies

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