Construction of China's first locally developed icebreaker was launched in Shanghai on Tuesday, 20 December, according to foreign media reports. China currently uses the Xue Long icebreaker, which was acquired from Ukraine in 1993, for polar expeditions. It remains the country’s only icebreaker. It was built at the Kherson shipyard.

The new vessel will have a length of 122.5 meters, a width of 22.3 meters, a draft of 7.85 meters, and a displacement of 13,990 tons. It is expected to be launched in 2019. The icebreaker is designed for autonomous navigation for periods of up to 60 days with a crew of up to 90 people. It will be capable of breaking through ice with a thickness of up to 1.5 meters at a speed of 2-3 knots.

China has been conducting research in Antarctica since 1984. Chinese scientists opened their fourth research base and selected the site for the fifth base last year.

The world's largest deposits of coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, gold, manganese, nickel, and molybdenum have been found in Antarctica. Under international agreements, mining of these resources is prohibited until 2041.