China’s Engagement in the Antarctic Governance Under Xi Administration: From “Symbolic” to “Substantial“

Dr Liu He1

1Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, Shanghai, China

In the era of President Xi Jinping, China is emerging from a “Polar Power” to “Polar Great Power”, it clearly defines the polar regions as “Strategic New Frontier”. China’s engagement in the Antarctica have evolved from “symbolic” to “substantial”: its interests have diversified in recent years; its Antarctic policy has changed from vagueness to unambiguousness; its recent policy initiatives and Antarctic activities are characterized by “contributing Chinese solutions”, “displaying Chinese commitment”, and “infusing Chinese positive energy”.


Therefore, these questions need to be examined about what the intentions of China’s increasing engagement with Antarctic governance are: it aims to act in ways commensurate with its rising global status and international influence or challenge existing governance structure, what China’s ambition towards the Antarctica under Xi administration and what China’s policy would be towards Antarctica in the future.


My presentation aims to answer these questions, and it includes three main parts: firstly it touches upon the Antarctic Treaty System and current governance regime in the Antarctic region; then examines China’s early involvement in Antarctic affairs, and explores its Antarctic motives, policy and interests in the early years; thirdly moves on to analyze China’s engagement in Antarctic governance under Xi administration.


Dr. Liu HE currently is a lecturer at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. Prior to joining SHUPL in 2018, Liu had worked at Shanghai Jiao Tong university (as a post-doc researcher), Wuhan University (as a lecturer), University of Cambridge (as a visiting scholar), University of Canterbury (as a visiting scholar), University of  Pennsylvania (as a visiting PhD student).

Her researches primarily focus on Antarctic politics, Antarctic governance and Key player’s Antarctic policies and practices. She has published more than 10 journal papers, book chapters and monograph in the field of polar law and politics.

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