Passengers trapped for more than a week on the icebound Russian research ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy are rescued by a Chinese helicopter in Antarctica in January 2014.
Passengers trapped for more than a week on the icebound Russian research ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy are rescued by a Chinese helicopter in Antarctica in January 2014. Jessica Fitzpatrick

China 'sneaking' onto Antarctica

BECAUSE Australia has long underfunded its Antarctic activities, it is failing to notice and act on a secretive Chinese military build-up and minerals exploration on the frozen continent, according to a defence think tank.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute says Australia's leadership role there is being eroded and China is building a case for a territorial claim.

The report says three of China's four Antarctic bases and two of its field camps are in the Australian Antarctic Territory that covers 42% of the continent.

China is seeking access to minerals, fishing, tourism and water.

The report by Anne-Marie Brady said, "The calculation that the Australian government has long made in short-changing Antarctic affairs in order to boost activities up north is looking increasingly risky.”

China has become a major actor in both polar regions as a result of a huge budget increase in the past decade. It is operating two icebreakers in down south with a third under construction.



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