China defends Arctic research missions

Updated: 2012-02-01 06:54


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BEIJING - Defending China's Arctic research mission, Chinese officials and analysts have categorically dismissed a Japanese media report which said the country is "casting menacing eyes on" the Arctic.

The Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun carried an article on January 28 claiming that China has been "eyeing greedily" the Arctic, said to be rich in untapped oil and gas, and mulling building a strategic base there for its "resources exploration" and even "naval vessels".

Qu Tanzhou, head of the Chinese administration in charge of Arctic and Antarctic exploration, on Tuesday refuted the article.

"It attempts to produce groundless suspicion between the Arctic states and China and undermine their relations, thus jeopardizing China's normal research missions there," Qu said.

Climate change response

As a major country in the Northern Hemisphere, China is greatly influenced by climate and environmental changes in the North Pole, Qu noted.

"As the world is increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change, it is fairly natural for China to embark on and step up Arctic research missions," he said.

China's Arctic research focuses on the interaction between the unfrozen sea, ice and air.

Qu said the research not only concerns China's economic and social development, but also helps deepen humanity's knowledge of climate change.

China's Arctic research mission started in late 1990s -- after the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Canada and Japan.

Only in late 1999 did China conduct its first comprehensive scientific research of part of the Arctic Ocean, followed by three more similar missions in 2003, 2008 and 2010, respectively, in fields of physical oceanography, marine biology and marine chemistry.

China had invited scientists from the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Finland and France, to join these missions, of which the whole process was open and transparent, according to Qu.

China signed the Svalbard Treaty in 1925, which entitled it to conduct scientific research in the Svalbard archipelago of Norway, where the country established its first Arctic scientific research station, the Yellow River Station, in 2004, after Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and South Korea had already done so.

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