China has signaled its ambition to start work on a new Antarctic airstrip as the country continues to increase its presence on the icy continent on Australia’s southern doorstep.

A report in the official newspaper of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China said the airfield is expected to be completed in a couple of years and will be used for scientific expeditions and tourist groups.

“Building an airstrip will clearly increase access and scientific capacity for China and is consistent with its aspirations to ramp up its activities in the region,” said ANU’s professor Donald Rothwell, a leading expert in International Law who specializes in the polar regions.

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