China to build airfield in Antarctica

Updated: 2014-10-29 09:30


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China is to build its own airfield in Antarctica to assist its four research stations on the frozen continent, the Beijing Evening News reports.

The airport is expected to provide a more reliable means of trasport for Chinese scientists and staff working in the South-pole. At present their only link to the outside world is via ships, but this life line can be cut-off anytime due to frozen seas or bad weather conditions.

The airstrip will be built near China's Zhongshan Research Station on the Antarctic coast near the Larsemann Hills, the newspaper said. But it did not give details such as the length of the runway or airport capacity.

The work to select the airport's location will start during the country's 31st Antarctic expedition scheduled for later this year, with help from a new drone developed in China.

China kicked off its first mission to the south-pole in 1984 with the aim of setting up the country's first Antarctic station, named after Changcheng (the Great Wall).

The other two Chinese stations in Antarctica are Kunlun and Taishan.

About 30 countries, all members of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, operate research bases in Antarctica. The pact aims to reduce the likelihood of confrontations over territorial disputes there.