When the Antarctic treaty expires and allows nations to begin mining and drilling in Antarctica it appears the Chinese will be first in line:
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — China is boosting its presence in Antarctica with an eye on the icy continent’s vast untapped resources, even though it could take 35 years to start exploiting them.
China has doubled its spending on Antarctic research in the past decade, although, at about $55 million in 2012, its effort is still much smaller than the U.S. Antarctic Program — almost $300 million on top of Department of Defense support.
National Science Foundation representative in Antarctica George Blaisdell said U.S. funding remains flat as the government grapples with economic woes and costs rise for fuel and other supplies. About 1,200 U.S. scientists, support workers and military personnel have been there this summer conducting research at remote locations.
Antarctic Treaty members, which include the U.S. and China, have agreed not to exploit Antarctic resources until 2048, but there is nothing to stop them doing geographical surveys. The U.S. has carried out such work in the past but, these days, U.S. scientists applying for Antarctic study grants are more likely to focus on climate change than mineral prospecting.
The Chinese, who already have looked to other countries for resources to feed their growing industries, appear to have a different attitude. [Stars and Stripes]
You can read the rest at the link, but clearly the Chinese are researching how to acquire minerals from Antarctica and not studying penguins and global warming like everyone else. Could the coming decades see war over Antarctica? It may seem ridiculous now but there are nations that claim territory on Antartica. For example Australia if you can believe it claims 42% of the continent. That is why they are always threatening to take Japan to the World Court over whaling, but never do. What are the Aussies going to do when the Chinese one day put a big oil rig in their claimed territory? The Australian think tank, the Lowy Institute has estimated that Australia’s claim in the Antarctic may have enough oil reserves to make Australia a world leader in oil production. Does anyone think the Chinese are going to allow the Australians to just sit on all that oil?