Antarctica in the Future of Australia-China Relations

Dr Nengye Liu1

1University Of Adelaide, , Australia

Antarctica is strategically important to Australia, who asserts sovereignty over 42 per cent of the Antarctic continent in the form of the Australian Antarctic Territory. In recent years, China has been significantly expanding its presence in this frozen continent. For example, China now operates three research stations in the AAT, including Kunlun Station at Dome A – the highest point of the Antarctic ice sheet. It is expected that Antarctic issues will play a more and more important role in Australia-China relations in the future. A comprehensive understanding of Chinese approach towards Antarctic law and policy is therefore essential when discussing China’s role in the future of Antarctic governance. By conducting a thorough search in the Social Sciences category of China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI/中国知网), a key national Chinese academic database that collects more than 10,0000 Chinese journals, more than 60 papers published between 2008 and 2019 were identified, which included the search term “Antarctica”. Based on an analysis of those publications, this paper discusses how Chinese academics perceive Australian Antarctic law and policy, especially around three key issues: Australia’s influence in Antarctica, Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic continental shelf.


Dr Nengye Liu is a Senior Lecturer at Adelaide Law School, University of Adelaide, where he teaches the law of the sea and Chinese law. Dr Liu’s current research centres on China’s role in global ocean governance, with particular focus on the Polar Regions.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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