China is to build two extra research stations in Antarctica, where it currently has three facilities, the State Oceanic Administration confirmed on Friday.
A summer base, to be used between December and March, will be built between two of its existing stations – Kunlun and Zhongshan – on the frozen continent, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Kunlun is on the summit of the East Antarctic ice sheet while Zhongshan is 1,280 kilometres away on the Antarctic coast.
The new station will be used to study geology, glaciers, geomagnetism and atmospheric science, Xinhua added.
A new all-year base will also be built in Victoria Land, on the Ross Sea, for multi-disciplinary research on bio-ecology and satellite remote sensing, it said.
An SOA official confirmed the Xinhua report to AFP.
An expedition team is carrying out site inspections and both are to be finished by 2015, the report added.
China’s third existing base, the Great Wall Station, is on King George island off the Antarctic Peninsula.
About 30 countries, all members of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, operate research bases in Antarctica. The pact aims to reduce the likelihood of confrontations over territorial disputes there.
On the other side of the world, China is looking to expand its presence in the Arctic, which is thought could harbour huge natural resources and serve as a shipping route to Europe.
The Antarctic, the target of more than 80 per cent of China’s polar expeditions, is China’s main polar focus, a report released last year by Swedish think tank the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.