China is building a permanent airfield in Antarctica as a global scramble over the world’s polar regions intensifies. China is building a permanent airfield in Antarctica as Beijing is expanding its influence over the polar region. The 1,500-metre airstrip will be located on an ice cap in the continent’s east, 28km from the country’s Zhongshan Station.
The new facility will be capable of servicing the Xue Ying (Snow Eagle) 601, China’s first polar fixed-wing aircraft which is based on the Basler BT-67, a modified version of the second world war-era C-47 U.S. military transport plane. The runway will allow use of larger planes and provide logistical support for China’s South Pole ambitions. Fifteen countries have built more than 50 permanent airfields or skyways in Antarctica – the United States, Russia, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Germany, Chile, Argentina, Norway, South Africa, Belgium, Japan and India.