China’s Antarctic ambitions

– and their implications for Australia


by Yun Jiang

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Executive Summary

  • Popular Australian concerns around the Antarctic ambitions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including possible territorial claims, militarisation, and mining, are overstated.
  • The PRC is unlikely to use force and coercion on the frozen continent. Instead, it will seek to advance its interests through international forums under the Antarctic Treaty.
  • The PRC’s development focus – particularly its emphasis on having access to Antarctic resources over environmental protection – is a source of friction with other Antarctic countries, including Australia. Canberra has an interest in ensuring that these and other tensions are resolved within the Antarctic Treaty System.
  • As the new Albanese government looks to stabilise Australia’s troubled bilateral relationship with the PRC, Antarctic science and logistics are potential areas for renewed cooperation.


Australian concerns regarding the international ambitions of the PRC have heightened during the tenure of its President, Xi Jinping. The Antarctic is no exception.

When the Australian Government updated its Antarctic Strategy earlier this year, then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison highlighted the PRC as a disruptive and coercive force, stating that “they don’t share the same objectives as Australia”.1

Is that an accurate assessment of the PRC’s objectives in Antarctica? While the PRC and Australia certainly have some divergent interests in Antarctica, common interests also exist. Both countries, for instance, wish to see the Antarctic Treaty System remain in force.

In this report, I argue that popular concerns around some of the PRC’s Antarctic intentions, including militarisation and territorial claims, are exaggerated. They stem from a misconception that what has been happening in the South China Sea will recur first in the South Pacific, and then in Antarctica.

Instead, in my view, the PRC adopts different approaches to different geopolitical issues. On Antarctica, it is unlikely to use military force and coercion but will instead advocate – assertively and forcefully – for its interests through the existing international forums under the Antarctic Treaty.

Indeed, as Australia under the new Albanese government looks for ways to stabilise its troubled bilateral relationship with the PRC, I argue that renewed cooperation in Antarctic science and logistics are potentially fruitful avenues for Canberra to pursue.

This report will outline the PRC’s interests in Antarctica and Beijing’s activities in support of these interests, before examining the concerns that some observers have about the PRC’s ambitions. It will then analyse Beijing’s approach toward the Antarctic Treaty System and Antarctic governance. Finally, it will make some recommendations for Australian policy makers.

PRC interests in Antarctica

The media and academics in the PRC pay relatively little attention to Antarctic politics or Antarctic governance. Compared to geopolitical hotspots in its immediate neighbourhood such as the South China Sea, Antarctica is a peripheral interest. Even compared to the Arctic, it receives less attention.2 The PRC does not have a policy paper on Antarctica despite releasing one for the Arctic in 2018. Its 2017 White Paper, China’s Antarctic Activities, was more backward-looking, describing its past activities, rather than forward-looking.

General interests: development and security

One of the PRC’s primary interests in Antarctica is ensuring access to resources, which constitutes an economic and development interest. Antarctic matters are only mentioned once in the 14th Five Year Plan for 2021–25, under the marine economic development heading.3

Accessing the continent for science and research is another significant interest of the PRC. It has had a policy of using science to foster development since the 1970s.4 More recently, scientific prowess has become even more prominent in its national strategy.5

Finally, national security, including military interests, is a significant consideration. The 2015 National Security Law mentions “polar regions” in terms of “peaceful exploration and use” and “international cooperation”.6 Antarctica hosts ground stations for many countries’ satellites, which is permitted under the Antarctic Treaty. This includes the PRC’s Beidou satellite navigation system, which is equivalent to the US Global Positioning System and has both civilian and military uses.7

Antarctica’s importance to the global environment and climate is also a national security interest for the PRC. For example, the shrinking of ice sheets in Antarctica leads to a rise in sea levels, which directly threatens the PRC’s coastal cities.8

Governance: the Antarctic Treaty System

PRC interests and activities in Antarctica are shaped by it being a party to the Antarctic Treaty.

The Antarctic Treaty System refers to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and related international agreements: the 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (commonly referred to as the Madrid Protocol), the 1980 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and the 1972 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.9

Under the Antarctic Treaty System, the PRC has the same rights and privileges as countries like Australia to access and use Antarctica and to conduct scientific research there. The extent of its Antarctic activities qualifies the PRC as a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty, giving it a say in how Antarctica is governed. It advocates for its interests at meetings and negotiations, where its behaviour and attitudes affect how it is perceived by other countries.

Along with these rights and privileges, the PRC needs to abide by certain rules, including prohibitions on making territorial claims, military activities and mining.

The PRC believes that the current Antarctic Treaty System serves its interests well and largely wants to maintain it. Its 2017 White Paper stated:

The System ensures peaceful use of Antarctica, guarantees the freedom of science, facilitates international cooperation, and thereby represents major contributions to the protection of the Antarctic environment and ecosystem.

PRC activities in Antarctica

The PRC only joined the Antarctic Treaty in the 1980s, making it a latecomer to the frozen continent. Since then, it has been trying to catch up with countries such as Australia that have a longer history in Antarctica and more influence in Antarctic governance.

The PRC has made significant progress throughout the last four decades, especially in the construction of research stations and logistics. Its scientific research has also improved since the 1990s. It aspires to become a great Antarctic power. However, it is far from being the dominant power in Antarctica: that mantle belongs to the United States.

This section outlines the PRC’s main activities in Antarctica, including in the areas of infrastructure, science, and krill fishing. In addition to these, the PRC has become the second largest source of tourists to Antarctica, behind the US.10


China did not participate in the scramble for Antarctica during the “Heroic Age” of Antarctic exploration in the early 20th century. The Heroic Age coincided with the period of New Imperialism for European powers; at that time, China was a victim of imperialism and more internally focused. Partly due to this history, the PRC – like almost all countries – sees all territorial claims on Antarctica as illegitimate, including that of Australia.11

It was only in 1980 that scientists from the PRC travelled to Antarctica for the first time, as part of the Australian Antarctic program. The PRC earned the privilege of decision-making on Antarctic governance in 1985, after constructing its first Antarctic research station. At that time, it was in a disadvantageous position compared to established Antarctic parties such as Australia or Norway, both of which were among the 12 original signatories of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959.


Research stations are a country’s most visible presence in Antarctica. The PRC has built four research stations – two permanent (in 1985 and 1989) and two summer (in 2009 and 2014) – and is building a fifth one (see table 1).

Along with stations, the PRC is also expanding its logistics capability. It has two operating polar ice breakers, and a third one is under construction as a key project of the 14th Five Year Plan. It also operates a polar fixed-wing aircraft in Antarctica and has the overland capability to supply its two inland, summer stations.

Table 1: Timeline of the PRC’s Antarctica-related infrastructure


Scientific output is considered the “currency of credibility” in Antarctica. Proposals to establish protected areas or research stations must be backed by scientific evidence. Top quality scientific outputs lead to countries having more influence on Antarctic governance. Beyond that, scientific research is also important for the PRC’s broader economic development.

The PRC only shifted its focus from establishing research stations to scientific research after the 1990s.12 Since then, its scientific output has grown rapidly and the scope has also broadened, but it is not yet on a par with other Antarctic countries such as Australia. It still relies on the goodwill of other, more established countries for data.

Despite the lag, as the PRC invests more in science, it may eventually catch up with other Antarctic countries in scientific output.13 The amount of funding for Antarctic scientific research increased from under US$2 million in 2010 to more than US$5 million in 2019.14

Krill fishing

The PRC is the second biggest krill fisher in Antarctica, behind Norway. From 2010 to 2020, it took 15.5 per cent of total krill catches, compared to Norway’s 60.9 per cent.15 In 2020, the PRC took half as much krill as Norway.16

Krill fishing is regulated with a cap for each season: once that cap is reached, all countries must stop fishing. Better technology on ships means more efficient fishing and processing, which can make a significant difference for each country’s share of the total catch.

The PRC is reportedly building the world’s largest krill fishing vessel, to be completed in 2023.17 Since an overall cap exists, increased catches by the PRC would not necessarily lead to depleted fisheries, but can result in less krill for Norway and others if the cap is reached.

Tensions and concerns

Overall the PRC does not have the most capability in Antarctica, nor does it use its capability differently from other countries. It does not have the capacity to exclude other countries from accessing parts of Antarctica. On Antarctic matters, it is more like a middle power than a great power.

However, expanding activities by the PRC and its aspiration to become a great Antarctic power have caused worries and concerns in countries such as Australia. The most prominent of these concerns are examined in detail below, including on territorial claims, militarisation, scientific cooperation and logistics cooperation.

Territorial claims

There is a misplaced worry that the PRC’s desire to use Antarctica will inevitably lead to territorial claims which, in turn, could ultimately result in Beijing excluding other countries from parts of Antarctica.18 Under the Antarctic Treaty, no new claims can be made. For the PRC to make claims, it would need to leave the Antarctic Treaty.19

But making territorial claims does not serve the PRC’s national interest. Its goal is not territorial control of Antarctica, which would be expensive and would overstretch its resources. No country has attempted this. Instead, the PRC’s goal is accessing Antarctica and using its resources. Under the Antarctic Treaty, the PRC can achieve this objective without making a claim.

Since claimant countries and non-claimant countries enjoy similar rights and privileges, there is no reason for the PRC to make a claim as long as the treaty remains in force. Even if the PRC were to make a claim, it would face considerable difficulties in defending that claim, either legally or militarily.

Instead, the PRC has an interest in not recognising claims, including that of Australia, because it does not want to be excluded from accessing and using Antarctica in the future. On this, it is not alone. Most countries, including the United States, do not recognise territorial claims on Antarctica.

Even though the PRC is unlikely to make territorial claims, territorial and nationalistic thinking continue to shape countries’ activities in Antarctica. This is most evident in the locations for research stations and runways. Research stations are built on Antarctica partly to serve geopolitical and nationalistic goals. They “plant a flag” on Antarctica and show scientific and technological prowess.

The location matters greatly. For example, the United States built a station on the South Pole, placing it simultaneously in all territorial claims, thus symbolising its denial of all claims. Meanwhile, the location of the PRC’s Kunlun Station was chosen partly to show off the achievement of operating the highest altitude base in Antarctica.

The location of runways has been a prominent concern in Australia in recent years. The PRC’s Zhongshan Station is located near Australia’s Davis Station. The worry that the PRC might build a runway near its station was one of the reasons for the past push for Australia to build its own runway. The logic was that, if Australia does not proceed, the PRC may, and then it would control access to both facilities.20 Yet, the same argument could also apply from Beijing’s perspective.

National security

The PRC has frequently been accused by media commentators and Antarctic researchers of secretly militarising Antarctica. For example, New Zealand Sinologist Anne-Marie Brady has noted the PRC’s “undeclared military activities” due to its dual-use logistics equipment and the involvement of military personnel in construction and logistics.21

However, the PRC’s use of military assets and dual-use equipment, including for its satellite navigation systems, is allowed under the Antarctic Treaty. Other countries, including Australia, the United States and New Zealand, regularly use military assets and personnel for logistics.

National security concerns have also been raised about bilateral scientific cooperation. In 2020, the Australian government decided to not renew funding for the Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research. The Centre was a collaborative research partnership between Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the PRC’s Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology. It was set up to understand the role of southern oceans in climate change.

The reason cited for this decision was the potential to aid the PRC’s “development of a satellite-based laser to detect foreign submarines”.22 CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall refuted this claim by pointing out that all research outcomes from the Centre are “available in the public domain”.23

As the PRC’s science and technology advances, countries like Australia have become more sceptical about collaborating with the PRC. This is evident in many scientific fields, not just Antarctica. In this instance, the shutting down of the entire centre, rather than the specific problematic program, was due to misgivings about any scientific cooperation with the PRC.24

Logistics cooperation

Logistics cooperation, along with emergency rescue, forms a significant part of cooperation between countries on Antarctica.25 Like with most countries that operate in Antarctica, the PRC has logistics-sharing arrangements with other countries. For example, the PRC has provided support to Australia’s Antarctic program using its Xueying aircraft.26

Despite deteriorating relations and distrust at the political level, such logistics-sharing arrangements between Australia and the PRC have continued in Antarctica.27 A.J. Press, a former director of the Australian Antarctic Division, observed that “on the ground, relationships between countries in Antarctica are warm and harmonious”.28

However, one aspect of logistics cooperation has suffered due to bilateral tension: port visits. In 2014, during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Tasmania, the PRC and Australia signed a memorandum of understanding that included a commitment to use Tasmania as a gateway to Antarctica. Yet in 2020, the Xuelong 2 ice breaker opted to make port calls in Christchurch, New Zealand, rather than Hobart.

This appears to have been a public snub to send a political message to Australia. That said, despite the political distrust, cooperation has endured at the working level. Such cooperation has been built over a long time, stemming largely from people-to-people links that began right from the start of the PRC’s Antarctic expeditions.

The PRC’s approach to Antarctic governance

The PRC is not a dominant power in Antarctica. Therefore, it is unlikely to use force and coercion on the continent. Instead, the primary way for the PRC to advocate its interests is through the existing international forums under the Antarctic Treaty.

However, the PRC’s participation in Antarctic governance – especially its focus on ensuring access to and using resources, over protection, of Antarctica – has led to intense disagreement with countries such as Australia. While the PRC is not trying to break the system, it is trying to bend it to its interests. This section scrutinises some of the PRC’s thinking on Antarctic governance, including the Antarctic Treaty System, the balance between protection and use, mining, and its views of other countries.

Discontent about influence

The PRC supports the Antarctic Treaty System as it affords it the same rights and privileges to access and use Antarctica as claimant countries without it needing to make a territorial claim. Such support is high among both scholars and officials in the PRC. There is almost universal agreement that the PRC should not leave or overturn the system.29

However, the PRC is not as influential on Antarctic governance as other countries such as Australia or the United Kingdom. This is acknowledged by scholars both within and outside the PRC.30 While it is actively trying to increase its influence, it is wary of being sidelined by others.

Researchers from the Polar Research Institute of China have labelled the seven claimant countries plus the United States the “monopoly bloc” of Antarctica.31 Their complaint is that only these countries can “express their demands through science or political interaction”, while others “face the risk of being forced to choose a side or being marginalised by the system”.32

On Antarctica, the PRC is a norm-taker, rather than a norm-maker. One of its failed attempts at influencing Antarctic governance was its 2013 proposal to establish a new Antarctic Specially Managed Area at its Kunlun Station. It could not convince other countries of the merits of its proposal.

The PRC aims to increase its influence.33 However, this runs up against the existing Antarctic powers, in particular the members of the so-called monopoly bloc. These countries, which currently have the most say on Antarctica, generally resist as they do not want to lose influence. This is exacerbated by distrust of the PRC due to its activities elsewhere, such as in the South China Sea.

Due to the relatively small number of countries (currently the 29 Consultative Parties) that can participate in decision-making on Antarctic matters, the PRC finds it difficult to rally other countries to its side. In other international forums, it has been effective in garnering support from other countries, especially from the developing world. However, most Consultative Parties are developed countries, as costly research activity on Antarctica is a membership requirement.

Wuhan University research fellow Zhao Ningning has offered the suggestion that, on Antarctic matters, the PRC “should not put too much emphasis on national interests” and that “the international community should not be led to believe that China’s activities in Antarctica are profit-oriented and interest-driven”. Instead, the PRC should “take on the role of a great nation and have global sentiment”.34

The risk for Beijing is that, if other Antarctic parties continue to see the PRC as a disruptive force, whether fairly or not, then they may become frustrated and seek arrangements outside the system to bypass its consensus requirements. We have seen this with the World Trade Organization (WTO), where the US perception that the PRC is exploiting loopholes has made the US less willing to engage multilaterally.35

Balance between protection and use

One area where the PRC wants more influence is on the “balance between protection and use”.36 Beijing has a development and resource focus on Antarctic governance. This focus has led to disagreements with countries, such as Australia, that focus more on environmental protection.

This clash of interests has been a central source of tension between the PRC and other Antarctic countries. Since decision-making at Antarctic Treaty meetings requires consensus, the PRC can play a spoiler role. In recent CCAMLR meetings, it has played that role by blocking consensus on the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs).37 This has frustrated other negotiators.

CCAMLR is aimed at “the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources”, such as krill and fishes. Yet, the Convention is explicit that the term “conservation” includes “rational use”. Countries and scholars disagree over the interpretation of the term “rational use”,38 with some interpreting it to mean “the unrestricted right to fish” and using it to oppose the establishment of MPAs.39 The PRC is not alone in its interpretation – Ukraine and Japan have made similar arguments in the past.40

In recent negotiations, the PRC has become the sole opponent of MPA establishment, requesting more scientific evidence for the proposal.41 Many officials and scholars see the PRC’s behaviour as obstructionist and disruptive. In one instance, it strongly opposed a proposal after expressing no concerns during the proposal’s development.42 The PRC’s behaviour is seen by others as undermining consensus and rejecting norms.43

Despite Beijing’s official position, debates exist among scholars in the PRC on the merits of supporting or challenging MPA establishment. Some support the government view, going so far as to accuse countries such as the United States of “using politics to avoid science”. In contrast, they observe, it is difficult for countries like the PRC to turn “knowledge into power”.44

There are also voices in the PRC suggesting that the government not challenge the establishment of MPAs. One even suggests that the PRC make its own proposal to establish MPAs.45 However, the PRC may be reluctant to do this due to its previous failed attempt to establish an Antarctic Specially Managed Area.

Debates also exist among scholars on the overall balance between protection and use in Antarctica. Some PRC scholars have made suggestions such as using the “community of a shared future for mankind” concept to promote protection and conservation of Antarctica.46 This would necessitate changing the framework from prioritising resource use to environmental protection, which is unlikely in the short-term.


The PRC’s focus on use over protection has led to worries that it will mine in Antarctica. Suspicions about the PRC’s mining intentions have persisted, especially the concern that the PRC is preparing to mine Antarctica from 2048, when the Madrid Protocol that bans mining can be reviewed.47 However, this worry is overstated.

While the PRC or any other Consultative Party country may call for a review of the mining ban in 2048, this prohibition is unlikely to be overturned: the threshold for overturning the ban is too high. It can only enter into force after being ratified by three-quarters of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties at the time of the proposal, including by all of the 26 Consultative Parties at the time of the adoption of the Madrid Protocol (such as Australia).48

To be sure, Beijing wants to keep the opportunity for mining open, and PRC officials are likely considering different post-2048 scenarios. A director of the PRC’s former State Oceanic Administration, for instance, has said that the country “must make strategic preparations for mining knowledge and technology, in order to take the initiative in a potential restart of negotiations”.49 However, the same official also conceded that 2048 “should not be considered a final whistle”, and the possibility of the ban continuing also exists.

While the PRC could yet go against the Madrid Protocol and unilaterally undertake mining, the reputational cost of doing so is substantial. The likely benefit does not warrant the cost – mining on Antarctica is unlikely to be necessary, given that demand for minerals is likely to drop due to the PRC’s declining population. In addition, the PRC appears to be more interested in alternative ways to source minerals, such as deep-sea mining in international waters in the Pacific and Indian oceans.50

PRC views of other countries’ activities

While countries such as Australia are worried about the PRC’s intentions and activities in the Antarctic, the PRC is also anxious regarding other countries’ Antarctic intentions and activities.

Many PRC scholars have expressed concern about claimant countries pushing for more sovereign rights in Antarctica. From their perspective, it is these activities that represent a “substantial challenge” to the Antarctic Treaty System.51

An oft-cited example is the claimant countries’ claims to territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in Antarctic waters. These claims are seen by some PRC scholars as excessive and as attempts to change the status quo on territorial issues in Antarctica.52 Several non-claimant countries such as Japan, the Netherlands and India have also expressed their concerns. Another example is efforts by Argentina and Chile to encourage births on Antarctica to bolster their respective claims.53

Many PRC scholars have also accused the US and Australia of militarising Antarctica, by pointing to their use of military logistics equipment, despite this being permitted under the Antarctic Treaty.54 Zhang Xia, Director of the Polar Research Institute of China, has named the United States as “the most prominent country that uses military resources on the largest scale, far above any other country”.55 Other PRC scholars also suspect Australia of preparing to militarise Antarctica for a possible future Antarctic war – a sensationalist claim.56


Australia should continue monitoring the PRC’s Antarctic activities closely; but it should not be unnecessarily alarmed by these. Thus far, these activities remain broadly in line with the Antarctic Treaty. As this report has shown, there also remain clear limits to PRC influence in the Antarctic.

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and the PRC. This milestone presents an opportunity to stabilise, and where prudent, to reinvigorate the bilateral relationship. Antarctic cooperation should form part of this effort.

Encourage port visits

While logistics cooperation has continued despite periods of political distrust between the two countries, PRC icebreaker port visits to Hobart have paused.

Port visits to Hobart represent an opportunity to publicly display goodwill between Australia and the PRC. Moreover, they boost Tasmania’s international image and credentials as a gateway to Antarctica, and provide economic stimulus to the state.

Now that high-level political contacts between Australia and the PRC have resumed after a three-year hiatus, Australian officials should suggest re-starting port visits to Hobart as one possible way to publicly celebrate the 50th anniversary of Australia-PRC diplomatic relations.

Support scientific collaboration

For national security reasons, certain areas of scientific cooperation will remain off-limits. These include, for example, proprietary technology that can help the PRC’s weapons development. However, these areas are only a small slice of Antarctic science – the scope for cooperation remains vast, including crucial research into the effects of climate change.

Australia should strengthen cooperation with the PRC in Antarctic science, including through supporting the establishment of collaborative projects between the CSIRO and its PRC counterparts. A major focus of research should be on understanding the role of Antarctica and the southern oceans in climate change.

Funding decisions for scientific research should be transparent and not subject to political intervention. Any national security concerns should be flagged early with researchers and actively mitigated where possible, rather than having projects vetoed at the last minute.

Appeal to the PRC’s own rhetoric

In recent years, the PRC has tried to highlight and reassure the international community of its climate credentials. Rather than asking for more evidence, Beijing largely accepts the established science behind climate change and has committed to act. However, on Antarctic matters, it is still in favour of resource use over environmental protection, and it is obstructing progress on the latter by requesting more evidence.

In partnership with other countries, Australia should continue to advocate for environmental protection on Antarctic matters. To do so effectively, Australian officials must develop a deeper familiarity with domestic debates within the PRC on environmental issues and climate change, including the precise terminology used and arguments made by its leadership. For example, they could usefully link the necessity of protecting Antarctica to the PRC’s political ideology and slogans on climate change, such as “ecological civilisation” and“a shared future for mankind”.



Yun Jiang is the inaugural AIIA China Matters Fellow at The Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) and China Matters. She was previously co-founder and editor of the newsletter China Neican, and a managing editor of the China Story blog. She is a former researcher in geoeconomics at the Australian National University and a former policy adviser in the Australian Government.


The Australian Institute of International Affairs and China Matters do not have an institutional view on the subject of this report; the views expressed here are the author’s.


The AIIA China Matters Fellowship is an investment in the next generation of Australian China specialists. The Fellow will publish well-researched and publicly accessible reports on developments in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which are especially relevant to Australia and add depth and alternative views to the vital debate about Australia’s relationship with the PRC.

Established from 1924 as branches of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and as a national body in 1933 as the Australian Institute of International Affairs, the AIIA is Australia’s longest established private research institute on international affairs and foreign policy. The institute’s mission is to have Australians know more, understand more, and engage more in international affairs. AIIA branches in every state and territory capital city, as well as a national office based in Canberra, arrange over 150 events per year, and the institute publishes premium publications such as the Australian Journal of International Affairs and Australian Outlook, its online publication.

China Matters is an independent Australian policy institute that strives to advance sound China policy by injecting nuance and realism as well as a diversity of views into debates about the PRC and the Australia-China relationship.

The author is grateful to four anonymous reviewers who each did a blind review.


  1. Scott Morrison (2022), “Press Conference Triabunna, TAS”, Transcript, 22 February 2022,
  2. Nengye Liu and Qi Xu found that, “In contrast to the Arctic, Chinese academics have paid much less attention to Antarctica.” Nengye Liu and Qi Xu (2021), “The predicates of Chinese legal philosophy in the polar regions”, in Dawid Bunikowski and Alan Hemmings (eds.), Philosophies of Polar Law, London: Routledge.
  3. The 14th Five Year Plan is the Chinese government’s plan for the country’s economic and social development from 2021 to 2025. It has 65 chapters, 175 sections and 119 key projects.
  4. Mengzhu Zhang and Marcus Haward (2022), “The Chinese Antarctic science programme: origins and development”, Antarctic Science.
  5. See for example Yutao Sun (2021), “China’s plan to become a world-leading technology force”, East Asia Forum, 8 May 2021:
  6. National Security Law (2015), Article 32,
  7. Anne-Marie Brady (2017), “China’s expanding Antarctic interests: implications for Australia”, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, August 2017:
  8. Erin Sikosky (2022), “Great-power competition and climate security in 2035”, The Strategist, 23 February 2022:
  9. The three related agreements can be found on the website of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat,
  10. CGTN (2019), “Antarctica: an increasingly popular destination for Chinese tourists”, 1 November 2019:
  11. For example, Zhang Jianghe and Zhang Qingda (2021), “对极地地缘政治走势的新探析” [A new analysis of polar geopolitical trends under the context of the changing world], 吉林大学社会科学学报 [Jilin University Journal Social Sciences Edition]; and Yang Haixia (2018), “南极竞争与中国战略—专访中国极地研究中心极地战略研究室主任张侠” [Competition in Antarctica and China strategy – Interview with Zhang Xia, Director of Polar Strategy Research Office, China Polar Research Center], China Investment.
  12. Zhang and Haward (2022).
  13. Zhang and Haward (2022).
  14. Zhang and Haward (2022).
  15. CCAMLR Secretariat (2021), Fishery Report 2020: Euphausia superba in Area 48:
  16. CCAMLR Secretariat (2021).
  17. Richa Syal (2021), “Licence to krill: the destructive demand for a ‘better’ fish oil”, The Guardian, 7 September 2021:
  18. For example, Gavin Fernando (2018), “As Australia looks north, China’s presence in the Antarctic continues to grow”,, 7 September 2018; and Alexander Gray (2021), “China’s next geopolitical goal: dominate Antarctica”, National Interest, 20 March 2021.
  19. A.J. Press and Anthony Bergin (2022), “Coming into the cold: China’s interests in the Antarctic”, Australian Journal of International Affairs. The Antarctic Treaty allows the existing claimant countries at the time of signature of the treaty to continue to assert their claims. But they and non-claimant countries cannot make new claims.
  20. Jeffrey McGee, Marcus Haward and Anthony Bergin (2021), “Gamechanger: Australian leadership for all-season air access to Antarctica”, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, April 2021:
  21. Brady (2017).
  22. Ben Packham (2020), “Security risk in China marine project”, The Australian, 10 February 2020.
  23. Larry Marshall (2020), “CSIRO response to The Australian”, 10 February 2020:
  24. Peter Hannam (2021), “‘Utter nonsense’: CSIRO blasted for dropping Chinese climate partner”, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 June 2021:
  25. For example, Australia and the PRC collaborated to medically evacuate an Australian from Antarctica in 2020.
  26. Anthony Bergin and A.J. Press (2020), “Eyes wide open: managing the Australia–China Antarctic relationship”, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, April 2020:
  27. Press and Bergin (2022).
  28. Press and Bergin (2022).
  29. While most articles published in the PRC take the current system as a given, three recommend that the PRC engage more with the Antarctic Treaty System. Deng Beixi and Zhang Xia (2021), “南极事务‘垄断’格局:形成、实证与对策” [Monopoly bloc in the Antarctic affairs: formation, empirical analysis and China’s countermeasures], 太平洋学报 [Pacific Journal]; Yang Hua (2020), “中国参与极地全球治理的法治构建” [The legal construction of China’s participation in polar global governance], 中国法学 [China Legal Science]; and Zhao Ningning (2017), “对当前澳大利亚南极政策的战略解析及其借鉴” [Strategic analysis on current Australia’s Antarctic policy and its implications], 华东理工大学学报 [Journal of East China University of Science and Technology].
  30. For example, Yang (2020); and Yang (2018).
  31. Deng and Zhang (2021).
  32. Deng and Zhang (2021) (author translation).
  33. For example, Wang Wanlu and Wang Haimei (2021), “21世纪以来中国的南极研究:进展与前景—王婉潞博士访谈” [The achievements and prospects of China’s Antarctic Studies since the 21st Century: an interview with Dr Wang Wanlu], 国际政治研究 [Journal of International Studies].
  34. Zhao (2017) (author translation).
  35. Dmitry Grozoubinski (2020), “The World Trade Organization: An Optimistic pre-mortem in hopes of resurrection”, Lowy Institute, 6 August 2020:
  36. Jiliang Chen and Nengye Liu (2021), “China and the Madrid Protocol, past, present and future”, Antarctic Affairs.
  37. An MPA is an area that provides protection for all or part of the natural resources. Within an MPA, certain activities are limited. MPAs do not necessarily exclude fishing. See CCAMLR (2020), “Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)”,
  38. Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Article II:
  39. Jennifer Jacquet et al. (2016), “‘Rational use’ in Antarctic waters”, Marine Policy.
  40. Jacquet et al. (2016).
  41. Tang Jianye (2016), “南极海洋保护区建设及法律政治争论” [The practice of establishing marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean and related legal and political debates], 极地研究 [Chinese Journal of Polar Research].
  42. Lynda Goldsworthy (2022), “Consensus decision-making in CCAMLR: Achilles’ heel or fundamental to its success?”, International Environmental Agreements.
  43. Elizabeth Buchanan (2022), “Antarctic in the gray zone”, Australian Journal of International Affairs; and Daniel Bray (2016), “The geopolitics of Antarctic governance: sovereignty and strategic denial in Australia’s Antarctic policy”, Australian Journal of International Affairs.
  44. Deng and Zhang (2021) (author translation).
  45. Liu and Xu (2021) wrote “Chen [Li] suggests that China should focus on the negotiations regarding how to best manage such kinds of MPAs, rather than challenging its legality. Chen even thinks that China could make its own MPA proposal and submit it to the CCAMLR. This is echoed by He Zhipeng, who believes a Chinese MPA proposal would enhance China’s key interests as a major power in the ATS.”
  46. Yang (2020). The concept of a “community of a shared future for mankind” (人类命运共同体) is central to Xi Jinping’s foreign policy and is included in the PRC’s constitution. See Andrew J. Nathan and Boshu Zhang (2022), “‘A shared future for mankind’: rhetoric and reality in Chinese foreign policy under Xi Jinping”, Journal of Contemporary China.
  47. Clare Young (2021), “Eyes on the Prize: Australia, China, and the Antarctic Treaty System”, Lowy Institute, 16 February 2021:
  48. A.J. Press (2015), “The Antarctic Treaty System: future mining faces many mathematical challenges”, Yearbook of Polar Law Online.
  49. Yang (2018) (author translation).
  50. Chen and Liu (2021).
  51. Wang Wen and Yao Le (2018), “新型全球治理观指引下的中国发展与南极治理” [China’s development and participation in Antarctic governance under the guidance of a new idea of global governance], 中国人民大学学报 [Journal of Renmin University of China].
  52. Yang Ying (2015), “《联合国海洋法公约》对南极事务的影响” [The impact of the UNCLOS on Antarctic affairs], 理论月刊 [Theory Monthly].
  53. Zhang and Zhang (2021).
  54. Zhang and Zhang (2021).
  55. Yang (2018) (author translation).
  56. Xu Shanpin and Wang Shucheng (2018), “澳大利亚南极战略: 内涵、特征及思考” [Australia’s Antarctic Strategy: its connotation, characteristics and reflection], 齐齐哈尔大学学报( 哲学社会科学版) [Journal of Qiqihar University (Philosophy and Social Science Edition)].