China sets sights on Antarctica grab as coronavirus fuels 'no diplomacy' in ...

CHINA is increasingly looking to push its luck in the waters surrounding Antarctica, as the coronavirus pandemic is making it increasingly hard to manage Beijing, a geopolitical expert has told Express.co.uk.

PUBLISHED: 17:20, Tue, Oct 27, 2020 | UPDATED: 17:25, Tue, Oct 27, 2020

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Xi Jinping's secretive state has already come under fire on the international stage for its aggression in the South China Sea. Experts now fear Beijing is looking south, to the scientific haven of Antarctica, hoping to position itself as a global leader in the region and push its luck with an international treaty. The global pact, signed 60 years ago, is dedicated to preserving and protecting the continent for scientific research and provides a safeguard against nuclear proliferation.

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But Professor Klaus Dodds says some parts of the agreement need updating.

He told Express.co.uk: “In recent years there has been growing recognition that the Southern Ocean needs more conservation protection.

“Essentially, we had a resource regime in place for about 40 or 50 years that tried to regulate fishing.

“But with climate change and growing pressures on fisheries, there was a fear that if we didn’t introduce Marine Protected Areas, we would find fishing nations like China, Korea, Russia and Ukraine becoming more and more active in the Southern Ocean.

China is stepping up interest in the Southern OceanChina is stepping up interest in the Southern Ocean (Image: GETTY)

Antarctica is managed under a treatyAntarctica is managed under a treaty (Image: GETTY)

“In 2017 we had the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area agreement and it took a lot of work to get it agreed – Russia and China really held out – they didn’t want to agree.

“Russia’s resistance is in part because of its fishing interests, but also because it was angry at the US over sanctions.”

Beijing’s pork industry is starting to rebound after being decimated by disease, but exports will take much longer to recover, according to analysts, after falling to the lowest level in 16 years.

With as many as 60 percent of its breeding sows gone by the second half of 2019, production of market pigs plunged and pork prices soared to new highs, where they have remained for much of this year.

As a result, Prof Dodds – a specialist in geopolitics and security at Royal Holloway University – says China is looking for other sources of food.

READ MORE: Antarctica: ‘Spooky’ British base ‘untouched in 50 years’ explored after scientists fled

The region is reserved for scientific researchThe region is reserved for scientific research (Image: GETTY)

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He added: “China sees itself increasingly as a major ocean power and it sees the Arctic and Antarctic as relatively under-explored fishing grounds.

“China tends to be quite resistant to anything that stops it fishing.

“But it’s worth bearing in mind that China has been hit by dreadful disease that has

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