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Annual Report on Polar Exploration (2005)

China has issued a report on its polar exploration in 2005, the first of its kind since the country began the scientific expedition more than two decades ago.


The report, issued by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), recorded the polar exploration activities, polar logistics, and the progress and major achievements made during the polar scientific studies in the past year.


According to the report, a 12-member expedition surmounted the highest icecap peak in the Antarctica at 3:15 AM on January 18, 2005, and became the first group to reach the peak of Dome A Icecap 4,039 meters above sea level, located at 80:22:00 degrees south latitude and 77:21:11 degrees east longitude.


"They realized another dream of human beings for the Antarctica," SOA Director Sun Zhihui said.


On March 24, an expedition team to the Antarctica, the 21st one of its kind, successfully finished its mission and returned to Shanghai, after a 151-day and 26,500-sea mile journey.


On November 18, China sent its 22nd expedition team to the Antarctica for scientific exploration, which is now working at the Antarctica and is scheduled to leave there for home before the end of this month.


Since it was the first annual report on China's polar exploration, the 2005 report also reviewed the country's polar expedition history that started in the early 1980s.


In 1983 China joined the Antarctic Treaty and became member country of the organization. In the 1980s China successively became member country of a few most influential international organizations on Antarctic affairs, including the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), and the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP).


In 1997 China joined the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and won a say in international polar affairs.


"China's polar exploration has taken shape after two-decade-long development," the report said, citing that China has formed a "three stations, one vessel" system on polar exploration.


The three stations refer to the Chinese scientific research stations built at the Antarctica and Arctic, including the Changcheng (Great Wall) Station established in February 1985 and Zhongshan Station established in February 1989, both at the Antarctica, and the Huanghe (Yellow River) Station built in July 2004 at the Arctic.


One vessel refers to the polar scientific research vessel of Xuelong (Snow Dragon) that was put into operation since 1994.


Statistics show that by the end of 2005, China had launched 22 Antarctic expeditions, two Arctic expeditions based on the Xuelong vessel, and another two Arctic expeditions at the Huanghe Station.


To date, the Antarctica and Arctic have received 3,000 scientific visits paid by the Chinese.


"We are now carrying out feasibility study of setting up China's third scientific station and also the country's first inland station at the Antarctica," Sun said.


"China has got a niche in polar exploration in the world after more than 20 years' endeavors; however, there is still a large gap between China and other countries that have done well in polar exploration," he added.


"So we must catch up with them," he said, adding that China will issue report on polar exploration every year starting this year.


(Xinhua News Agency February 11, 2006)

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