More than 400 international experts and government officials gather in Shanghai for a two-week conference on the Antarctic.
Shanghai was chosen to host the conference because it is home to the Polar Research Institute of China and the base for all of the country's expeditions to the South Pole.
"I hope the conference will further communications between China and other nations engaged in exploring the South Pole," Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao said in his congratulatory letter to the conference, the first of its kind in China. "China will abide by the principle of peace, co-operation and friendship and continue to promote scientific research in the hope that mankind can wisely use the resources available in the South Pole."
Vice-Mayor Han Zheng also offered a warm welcome to the participants and congratulations to the conference on behalf of the municipality.
The 27th Meeting of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the 14th Meeting of the Council of Managers of the National Antarctic Program (COMNAP) will hold 37 symposiums highlighting such topics as human biology and medicine.
"Global warming is the biggest concern," said SCAR President Robert Rutford.
It is not surprising to see a warming trend so long after the Ice Age, he said, but scientists need to know whether it is a normal change by Mother Nature or one unnaturally brought on by human beings.
Insight into its cause can help human better care for the planet and lead to sustainable development.
Such insight may come at the Shanghai conference, Rutford said.
"China has made obvious achievements in polar research and has neared the internationally advanced level in several aspects," said Wang Shuguang, director-general of the National Bureau of Oceanography. "But there is still a long way to go. A lack of funding has hindered our progress. We need more opportunities like this conference to expand international communication."
China now has two stations: Great Wall and Zhongshan.
(China Daily July 16, 2002)