China opens 4th Antarctic research base

BEIJING -China has opened a fourth Antarctic research base, boosting the country’s ambition to build itself into a maritime power, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said on Saturday. Taishan station is 76 degrees 58 minutes east longitude and 73 degrees 51 minutes south latitude on the East Antarctic inland ice sheet at an altitude of 2,621 meters.
The site is between Zhongshan and Kunlun stations, which were previously built by the Chinese. The yearly average temperature there is about minus 36.6 degrees Celsius. Taishan station, which measures 1,000 square meters with its main building 410 square meters, is one of seven international inland research stations on the continent. President Xi Jinping congratulated on the research base in a letter, saying that scientific research in the Antarctica is important for the exploration of nature and development of mankind.
Xi noted that the base will not only be a platform for China’s scientific research but also for exchanges with scientists from other countries. Qu Tanzhou, head of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration under the SOA, said that Taishan’s circular structure will help prevent an the accumulation of snow around the station during winter when gales are common in inland areas on the continent. It can accommodate up to 20 people during the Antarctic summer and is equipped with a runway for fixed-wing aircraft, specially designed for taking off on snow and ice.
The station’s facilities can be used for scientific observation, accommodation, power generation, storage, machinery maintenance, communication and emergency shelter. “The temperature inside Taishan station can reach 20 degrees Celsius with the help of power generation equipment, which enables people to cook and take showers,” Qu said. It also has oil storage installations and equipment to support a 400-tonne inland transportation vehicle team. Qu said construction of its main building has been completed, but conditions are not yet suitable for people to live there.
According to the SOA, the station was built by the team of China’s 30th Antarctic scientific expedition mission. It took a 28-strong crew 53 days to build the station. Taishan station, which will be used in summers, is expected to be in service for the next 15 years.
“We will build another research station near the Ross Sea, close to the South Pole, which can be used all year round,” Qu said. China’s first Antarctic expedition in 1984 was the first step toward establishing the four research centers on the continent — Great Wall, Zhongshan, Kunlun, and now Taishan. The first station, Great Wall, opened in 1985. Noting that China’s polar explorations still lag behind developed countries, Qu said the number of American people undertaking polar research in one year outstripped China’s total number that have been conducting such research over the past 30 years. China’s leadership outlined the country’s “maritime power” strategy at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in late 2012, calling for increased capacity for exploiting marine resources, protecting the marine environment and safeguarding the country’s maritime rights and interests. Enditem.

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