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30 years of polar research in China

Author  :       Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2014-03-28

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of China’s polar research. In early February China opened its fourth Antarctic research base, Taishan Station, which will allow the country to further expand the fields and scopes of its Antarctic expedition.

Discussing the importance of polar research, Zhang Xia, director of the Research Division on Polar Strategy of the Polar Research Institute of China, claims that traditional theories of geopolitics and global governance are seldom relevant to the study of the Poles due to the special position of its subject matter. Conducting the study of the Polar Regions not only promotes the development of basic research and expands our knowledge, but its strategic value is also increasing with the changing international political, economic and natural environment. The strategic importance of polar research can be reflected in two ways: on the one hand, by providing support and opportunities for decision-making and international cooperation through the enhancing of the comprehensive understanding of the polar regions, and on the other hand, by providing technical support for polar activities through the application and innovation of polar technology.

Zhang also feels that it is important to conduct interdisciplinary research. “Looking at the arctic region, due to the increase of resource exploitation and ship transportation, pure scientific research is no longer sufficient to meet society’s demands, and it is imperative to conduct interdisciplinary research combining applied technology with the natural and social sciences. The two cases of research on climate change and sustainable development exemplify the cooperation between the natural and social sciences”, adds Zhang.

Chinese research on the poles presents the following problems: a rather late start, imbalanced investment and a relatively limited reserve of academic talent, Zhang concludes. Compared with the average international level, China’s capability to conduct polar research still has the potential to gain pace in the future, something which will have to be based on a long-term research design for applied technology as well as on more investment.



The Chinese version appeared in Chinese Social Sciences Today, No. 561, 19th February, 2104.

Chinese link:



  Translated by Chen Meina

  Revised by Gabriele Corsetti

Editor: Du Mei

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