• Sat
  • Nov 29, 2014
  • Updated: 6:10pm

Xi Jinping orders 'all-out' effort to rescue Antarctic exploration ship

President urges 101 people on board Chinese icebreaker to stay calm after it became trapped following rescue from icebound Russian vessel

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 6:23am

President Xi Jinping has ordered "all-out efforts" to save 101 people aboard an icebreaker trapped after going to the rescue of a Russian ship stuck in heavy floes in Antarctica.

The Xue Long, or the Snow Dragon, was the nation's pride on Thursday after its helicopter ferried dozens of stranded passengers from Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy to safety aboard an Australian icebreaker .

But the ship itself became trapped and could not break free the next day.

Xi yesterday praised the Chinese expedition team aboard Xue Long and said they had accomplished the rescue mission under tremendous risks and brought honour to China, according to Xinhua.

The president asked those on board to "remain calm" and ordered "all-out" efforts to help them out of danger.

Xinhua last night said the State Oceanic Administration had set up a special task force to lead and co-ordinate the new rescue mission.

Those trapped on the Xue Long include crew members, scientists and journalists.

The ship was locked in a heavy floe area, some 21 kilometres from the nearest ice-free waters, Xinhua said. It quoted journalists aboard the vessel of saying that the ship had enough supplies to last until April.

The ship's passage has been blocked by a drifting, one kilometre-long iceberg since Friday. Its captain Wang Jiangzhong told Xinhua that they would only try to break out after the iceberg moved away.

But tidal conditions are extremely complex and the positions of the iceberg and ice floes are changing rapidly.

State broadcaster CCTV said last night that a strong cyclone is possible and it could help the vessel break free as early as next week. It said crew members were planning a table tennis game to lift their mood.

The setback, however, would not dampen China's ambitions in Antarctic exploration.

China announced soon after the incident that the country will build a new icebreaker that is "far more technologically advanced and bigger than the current one".

Qu Tanzhou, head of the Antarctic office under the State Oceanic Administration, told China Radio International yesterday that the new icebreaker would enter service in two or three years and would be "one of the most advanced in the world".

Xue Long, built in Ukraine in 1993, was a cargo ship until it was converted to a polar research ship. It is China's only icebreaking vessel.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority yesterday also confirmed there was no immediate danger to people on board the Chinese vessel, adding in a statement that Akademik Shokalskiy and Xue Long could assist each other if necessary.

It also said Aurora Australis, the Australian vessel carrying the rescued passengers, had continued to make its passage to the Casey base to renew supplies before returning to Australia.

Additional reporting by AFP


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This article is now closed to comments

So the Chinese government brag a bit about what they did, big deal, why all these criticism?
Many people are being biasd against the Chinese government and critize everything single thing they do regardless good or bad. We should be fair and objective and look at what they do and not who they are.
Yes, the communist regime made many mistakes and did terrible things in the past, no doubt about that, but we need to look forward. The reality is, this regime is in power, ruling the most populous nation in the world and an important international player. We should be glad to see China learning to be a mature and responsible government.
Holding CCP's past and critizing everything China does is not going to help, and it is not fair. The Japanese never apologize for what they did in WWII, I don't see people being over critical against the Japanese government. I wonder why...
How sad to say such a thing! Why can't it be that he simply wants to help people?
SCMP lost in translation....(a good demonstration of the 2 steps flow in communication theory)
when I looked at the Chinese version of what President Xi has said, it did not carry the meaning of "all out", Xi only requested " all relevant departments to cooperate and coordinate to help the crew to get out of of situation safely and quickly.." .
When SCMP readers have read the original version by President Xi in Chinese, they should not have made some of the comments which are posted here.
This fact might have disappointed those Chinese Bashers, Sorry !
As an American citizen, I'm saddened to see such a bitter comment as this. What is there to criticize about such a rescue operation. A ship was stuck. According to international maritime conventions other ships in the area helped out. The goal is to save people. Why does this have to become some occasion for bitter vitriol against the Chinese government?
My gosh, out of all the possible things in the world that a human being could be concerned about, or get worked up about, why on Earth would you want to get worked up over something as simple as a ship rescue operation?
This is nothing more than a cry for attention from China's president. "Look what I'm doing!", he so desperately cries out.
Because it's always the Communist government that uses stunts like this to gain political points. If you knew what the Chinese government does to its people, you wouldn't think they care about any human life at all.
Why don't we never here from head of states of other countries praising that their countries would be proud of some of their people just doing their duty on humanitarian grounds ? Does the Chinese president has nothing better to do ?
And why does it need a country's president to get involved in such operation ? Aren't the people in China able to handle such matters on an operational level ?
plenty of food & drink left but they're running low on cigarettes hence the prioritising of the rescue mission
Yes. China and Russia have jointly asked the Americans to rescue their ships trapped in arctic ice. America is sending a Coaster Cutter en-route from a resupply mission in Sydney Australia. For the US, this type of rescues is routine and does not require publicity! China can learn something here:
For all of its posturing in the East China Seas and verbosity on the geopolitical scene, we can all clearly see who it turns to when its "national pride" hit **** or ice. Being the leader of the world requires much more than intimidation of one's smaller and less capable neighbors or systematic exploitation of the weak for exclusive benefits of an elite few, it demands principles-driven policies led by courageous action and sacrifices not for individual glory but compassion. The hurricane in the Philippines and the trapped ships in the Arctic Ice demonstrated once again, which nation is the World's sole superpower and declared leader. It's definitely not China!
So much for the propaganda coup....



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