Australian and Chinese officials met in Hobart (Tasmania) in February, for the first meeting of the Joint Committee on Antarctic and Southern Ocean Collaboration.
The meeting signalled a desire to strengthen cooperation on Antarctic science, operations, policy and enhanced environmental protection. During the meeting, Australia and China agreed on a number of priorities for a joint program of work to guide future activities, including:
- agreeing a focus for future scientific cooperation;
- holding a joint East Antarctic/Ross Sea Workshop on collaborative science in 2017;
- increasing the use of Hobart as an Antarctic gateway;
- advancing policy discussions on enhanced environmental protection and other key areas;
- committing to support each other’s national Antarctic programs through an annual logistics support agreement ahead of each season;
- establishing professional exchanges of scientists, officials and scholars on policy, science and operations.
China and Australia have a strong tradition of cooperation in Antarctica spanning many decades. Australia helped facilitate China’s first visit to east Antarctica 30 years ago, and the countries have continued to work closely together, providing support for each other’s Antarctic programs.
The Joint Committee was established under the China‑Australia Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Affairs, signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hobart in November 2014.