China to frame domestic laws governing activities in Antarctica
Beijing, Mar 9: China is all set to make a domestic law on Antarctic operation and environment protection as it seeks to firm up its hold over the icy and resource-rich southernmost continent. The draft law in line with the Antarctic Treaty's principles and requirements has been included in the legislation plan of the China’s parliament, National People’s Congress (NPC), which is currently holding its annual session here.
The legislation is aimed at clarifying relevant departments' responsibilities and regulating participants' activities in Antarctica, Cheng Lifeng, a member of the NPC's Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee, was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency. In accordance to the legislation agenda, the committee is actively doing research and busy drafting the law, he said.
China is in the process of building its fifth research station in Antarctica, the second highest following the US' plans to step up investments in research at world’s coldest continent and enact a domestic legislation. China signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 that designates the continent as a natural reserve and prohibits commercial resource extraction.
The US has six stations and Australia has three. The Xinhua news agency also reported that China's icebreaker Xuelong, known as the Snow Dragon, is on its way back home from its 35th Antarctic research mission. Crew members have made a series of research advances during the four-month-long journey, such as the completion of new buildings and supporting facilities in research bases, marine species surveys, underwater robot tests, and installation of new radar and solar telescopes.
The completion of the second stage of Taishan Station is one of the most important achievements by researchers, who have established new buildings and systems of power generation, as well as snow melting and sewage treatment under snow. They also made key technological breakthroughs in new energy application for research stations.
The research team acquired a mass of data and samples of marine species in the Antarctic region, and discovered that there might be a krill breeding ground in the Amundsen Sea. During the mission, Snow Eagle 601, China's first fixed-wing aircraft for polar flight, completed detection of an Antarctic ice sheet and obtained important records of the ice core climate.
Researchers also completed the construction of a runway in China's first airfield in Antarctica, which will greatly facilitate the nation's research and expedition on the frozen continent. The icebreaker departed from Shanghai on November 2.