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A map shows the locations of existing Chinese Antarctic stations and the Inexpressible Island site of a new station in this handout image.

CSIS/Hidden Reach/Handout via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: China’s Antarctic “research,” Seoul’s warning to Moscow, Kiwi’s called-off cat cull

What's China really up to in Antarctica?

China is ramping up construction of its fifth scientific research station in Antarctica. But the new facility might have a hidden purpose, according to a new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US think tank.

Indeed, the Pentagon believes that the scientific investigation equipment can also be used to collect signals intel on two US allies: Australia and New Zealand. What's more, the station is located on Inexpressible (!) Island near the Ross Sea in order to triangulate signals with its existing stations and thus monitor Aussie and Kiwi space activity.

Unlike in the North Pole, where China has long wanted to become a player as melting ice caps offer opportunities for new mining and shipping lanes (not to mention spying on Canada), the frozen continent is off-limits for military activities under a 1959 treaty. The problem is a lot of the Chinese tech at the research stations is dual-use — as are some of China's "civilian" firearm exports to Russia.

Still, there's not much the West can do about it. So if you're Australia or New Zealand, be careful: China will soon be listening.

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