Rising China and Antarctic futures in the Anthropocene

Nengye Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter examines the question: what will the future of Antarctica look like with a rising China? It first briefly sets out the international legal regime that governs the Antarctic. Next, possible futures of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) are examined in the context of China’s rise. The ATS has generally been praised as a success for maintaining peace and security in the Antarctic. Questions have, however, been raised in recent years because no significant new agreement has been concluded under the ATS since the adoption of the Madrid Protocol in 1991. Due to the challenges posed to the Antarctic environment in the Anthropocene, the resilience and the future of the ATS are under increased scrutiny. The paper points out that 2048 and 2052 are critical time points for the future of the ATS. These dates are respectively when the Madrid Protocol’s Mining Ban could potentially be reviewed; and when the duration of the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area comes to an end. The chapter then reflects on recent Chinese activities in the Antarctic as well as China’s Antarctic law and policy to determine China’s possible moves in Antarctica, as well its potential impact on the ATS in next 30–50 years. China appears to have taken a two-fold approach in Antarctic governance—while China is generally supportive of the ATS, China is also keen to make its mark in shaping future development of the ATS in a manner that promotes China’s interests.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCharting environmental law futures in the Anthropocene
EditorsMichelle Lim
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9789811390654
ISBN (Print)9789811390647
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Antarctica
  • Southern Ocean


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