China’s Next Geopolitical Goal: Dominate Antarctica
by Alexander B. Gray
20 March 2021
China’s military ambitions on the Southern Continent, meanwhile, are real and growing. China’s construction of a permanent Antarctic airfield in 2018, its growing fleet of icebreakers, and an influx of People’s Liberation Army personnel at Beijing’s research stations are just a sampling of Beijing’s military objectives. At Zhongshan Station, PLA experts helped to construct a radar site that could, according to experts, interfere with U.S. polar satellites. In violation of the Antarctic Treaty, China did not report any of these PLA activities to its fellow treaty signatories.
Alarmingly, China has extended its predatory economic ambitions to the Antarctic as well. A significant number of Chinese experts believe, contrary to international law, that the Madrid Protocol expires in 2048, along with the accompanying ban on mining in the Antarctic. This has prompted Chinese officials to openly speculate about the Southern Continent as a potential source for rare earth elements, oil and gas, and more. Fishing, tightly regulated in the Southern Ocean under the Protocol, and for which China has a well-deserved global reputation for illegal and unsavory behavior, would become a free-for-all. The behavior the world has watched in Africa and Southeast Asia for years may be coming to the South Pole in the years ahead.