Chinese visit to Hobart

The Chinese Antarctic vessel, Xue Long, called into Hobart in January, as part of the Chinare 29 voyage. The ship came out of the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, used Hobart to resupply and refuel, and then headed south to Zhongshan Station in Prydz Bay — neighbouring Australia’s Davis Station.

The Australian Antarctic Division hosted a one-day workshop with colleagues from the Xue Long, to exchange ideas, particularly on opportunities for collaboration. The Australian Antarctic program has committed to working with the key Chinese Antarctic institutions to identify collaborative projects, building on our long and close relationship (Australia took the first Chinese Antarctic expeditioners south in the 1980s).

After the workshop the Australian Antarctic Division hosted a dinner with representatives of Chinare 29. Also attending were the Tasmanian Premier, the former Tasmanian Governor, the Lord Mayor of Hobart, representatives of Hobart’s key scientific institutions and private sector interests with connections to Antarctica, and senior representatives of the Tasmanian Government. The Chinese were led by Mr Qu Tanzhou — the voyage leader of Chinare 29 and also the Director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration.

Mr Qu spoke about the close relationship between China and Australia in Antarctica, and he focussed on strengthening those relationships. China is seriously considering using Hobart as one of their points of access to Antarctica.

The Chinese visit to Hobart symbolises the growing collaboration between the Australian and Chinese Antarctic programs. Hobart is Australia’s gateway to Antarctica and it is hoped that the city can become an expanded international gateway for both scientific activity and logistics.

Tony Fleming
Australian Antarctic Division