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China to build 1st inland Antarctica station
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An artistic impression of China's forthcoming inland research station at the South Pole. [Photo: sina.com] 

China will set up a new observatory station in Antarctica at the region's highest peak within two years, official said.

"The 25th Chinese Antarctic expedition starting in October will mainly focus on building a new station on Dome A and further exploration of the Antarctican plateau," said Wu Jinyou, party secretary with the Polar Research Institute of China.

Wu made the statement during a visit on Wednesday to the northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to promote environmental protection.

Dome A is an Antarctic plateau 1200 kilometers inland, and is thought to be one of the coldest naturally occurring places on Earth with temperatures believed to reach -90 degrees Celsius.

Wu did not specify when construction of the new station would be finished.

Earlier reports said the construction were expected to be completed by January next year, but the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAA), affiliated to the State Oceanic Administration, said on its website that the construction might well last through 2010.

The station, once completed, will be China's first inland Antarctic research station.

Six countries, including the United States, Russia, Japan, France, Italy and Germany, have already built inland research stations in the Antarctica.

China has so far built two research stations in Antarctica. The Great-Wall Station, founded in February 1985, is located south of King George Island, and Zhongshan Station, built in February 1989, is located south of Prydz Bay on the Mirror Peninsula, eastern of Larsemann Hills.

(Xinhua News Agency September 4, 2008)

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