China's covert operations in Antarctica is threatening Australia's leading role and its claim on the region. The Chinese government is slowly eroding Australia’s capacity in the area because of its long-term under-investment. China is emerging from a minor player to a major factor in the playing fields of Antarctic explorations.

Australia has a 42 percent claim in Antarctica

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) reports that China is operating undercover in the Antarctic Continent. It is establishing a scenario for territorial claims in the region where the Aussies have 42 percent geographical claim. The Chinese are also into the exploitation of the minerals found in the continent.

The large budget allotment poured in by the Chinese government propelled their contingent to become a leading protagonist in the affairs of the polar continent. The situation puts the Australian led initiative at risk in expanding its regional presence as well as other nations intent to be on the area.

China’s major operations in the Polar Continent

The present explorations and activities of the Chinese presence placed utmost concern in Australia’s short-changed Antarctic Affairs. As reported by Anne Marie Brady, editor of The Polar Journal, China has three out of the four Antarctic bases in Australian Antarctic Territory. She warns that the presence of the invaders aims to mine Antarctic resources such as hydrocarbons, minerals, transport routes, Antarctic tourism, fishing, bio-prospecting and water, news.com Australia reports.

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Brady adds that the Chinese government continuously explored the Antarctic region irrespective of the Madrid Protocol. The actions violate the Antarctic Treaty signed into implementation by its member countries.

The Madrid Protocol and the Antarctic Treaty

The Madrid Protocol, which is also known as the Antarctic Environmental Control, is part of the Antarctic Treaty System. The agreement provides complete protection of the region and its ecosystem.

The countries that made the pact to put on a comprehensive defense of the environment in the Antarctic Continent are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, and USSR. The treaty obtained the signatures of the respective representatives on December 1, 1959, in Washington, USA. The primary goal of the accord is to ensure "in the interest of humanity that Antarctica shall forever exclusively be for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord," reports the Daily Telegraph, Australia.

According to ASPI, with all the news about a shrinking Antarctica, China is continuing its undeclared military activities in the region and its failure to be transparent in its scientific projects. Long term strategic investments, with a definite and firm leadership and diplomacy, Australia could manage the direction of the players in the Polar Continent. It could also control its political relationship with China and protect its national interest as well.