China’s research icebreaker vessel Xuelong has reportedly arrived at New Zealand’s South Island city of Christchurch to restock supplies in preparation for the country’s 35th Antarctic expedition.

The Saturday morning port call marked the second phase of supply delivery the research vessel conducts after it departed two weeks ago from China’s Zhongshan research station in Antarctica. China’s state CCTV broadcaster reported.

Zhongshan Station is the second Chinese research station in Antarctica and administered by the Polar Research Institute of China. The station is supplied by annual visits of Xuelong.

During its two-day call at the Christchurch port, Xuelong – which means Snow Dragon — will load nearly 1,250 tons of fuel and some 1,000 tons of fresh water, vegetables and other food supplies.

A total of 67 new Chinese researchers will board the icebreaker to take part in the country’s 35th Antarctic research expedition. This is while 20 currently-serving researchers will be going ashore to fly back to China.

The research team aboard the Xuelong set for sail from China’s major port city of Shanghai on November 2, to launch the nation’s 35th Antarctic expedition, which is due to last 162 days and cover 37,000 nautical miles (68,500 kilometers).

The Xuelong was built in 1993 at Kherson Shipyard in Ukraine, and then converted from an Arctic cargo ship to a polar research and re-supply vessel by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding of Shanghai by the mid-90s. The vessel was extensively upgraded in 2007 and 2013. 

This came amid rising rivalry between the US and China in nearly all fronts, including military power, global influence, international trade and technological advances.

Last October, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described China as the biggest national security challenge facing the US, insisting that the current administration in Washington is pushing back against China “on all fronts.”

PressTV-Pompeo: China biggest national security challenge for USUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says China is the biggest national security challenge facing Washington.

In a radio interview on October 31, Pompeo claimed Washington was engaged in a multi-pronged effort to convince Beijing to behave like a “normal nation.”

The top US diplomat further claimed that China’s stealing of intellectual property has cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars.

“It is a multipronged effort on behalf of all of the United States Government, at the President’s direction, to convince China to behave like a normal nation on commerce and with respect to the rules of international law,” he said.

The former commander of the US Army in Europe also warned in October that it’s very likely the United States and China will be engaged in a military conflict within the next 15 years.

PressTV-US war with China likely in 15 years, retired general saysThe former commander of the US Army in Europe warned Wednesday that it’s very likely the United States will be at war with China in 15 years.

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges said on October 26 that European allies would have to do more to increase their military capabilities in face of a resurgent Russia because America will need to focus more attention on defending its interests against China.

“The United States needs a very strong European pillar. I think in 15 years — it’s not inevitable — but it is a very strong likelihood that we will be at war with China,” Hodges told a packed room at the Warsaw Security Forum, a two-day gathering of leaders and military and political experts from central Europe.

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