Scroll to the top

{{ subpage.title }}

Welcome to Antarctica: A conflict-free zone
title placeholder | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

Welcome to Antarctica: A conflict-free zone

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Happy New Year 2024 from Antarctica.

That's actually where I am in a year where we're going to have, unfortunately, so much international conflict, so much geopolitical posturing, so much difficulty around the world. Seems like a good place to take a fresh start to kick off the year one continent that is actually free of that conflict and free because the world has decided to govern it well, the Antarctic. They used to be territorial claimants with overlapping claims, old colonial powers, and countries that were closed, whether it's Chile, Argentina, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, others. But they all suspended those claims as they entered into an Antarctic Treaty back in 1959.

Read moreShow less

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.

Read moreShow less

Subscribe to our free newsletter, GZERO Daily