by Will Koulouris
SYDNEY, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- With the Antarctic region serving as a hub of global scientific research, the head of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) said that the collaboration between Australia and China in the region is an "exemplar" of the great relationship between the two nations.
Nick Gales, director of the AAD, told Xinhua recently that the partnership between China and Australia in scientific studies in the polar zone that has been going on for nearly 40 years is continuing to blossom, with both nations maintaining and growing a strong working relationship.
"With China in particular, we started our relationship with China a long time ago, and we took the first Chinese scientists down to Antarctica as part of the Australian Antarctic program back in the early 1980s," Gales said.
"From those very early days we have maintained a really close working relationship with Chinese scientists -- China has become increasingly interested in Antarctica, and has been growing its activities down there."
The recent visit in 2014 by President Xi Jinping with a focus on Antarctic collaboration is "extraordinary," according to Gales, who said that the visit further cemented the ties between the two nations in their Antarctic endeavors.
"It's very prominent in the relationship between our two countries, and it's a great exemplar of where we work very well together, and collaboratively," Gales said.
"One of China's major stations is right next to one of our major stations -- the Zhongshan is right next to Davis -- and so we share a lot of logistics, and we are increasingly collaborating on more and more research projects," he said.
"We are really excited. Our relationship continues to mature, and to grow in different areas," Gales said.
"The science is really exciting, and doing it with the Chinese who are now really major players in the Antarctic treaty system, is incredibly exciting," he added.
As the head of the AAD, Gales is looking forward to a workshop to be held at his headquarters in Hobart in Australia's Tasmania state later this month, which will see representatives from China visit for the first time under the Memorandum of Understanding on strengthening bilateral Antarctic cooperation that was signed by the two leaders in 2014.
"From that workshop I think we will take another step again in continuing to expand the number of projects, and the areas with which we work together, and really bring the combined strengths of Australia's logistics and science, along with China's, together," Gales said.