Published: 10:40, April 14, 2024
Xue Long 2 brings ‘polar spirit’ to Hong Kong
By Xinhua
People visit polar icebreaker Xuelong 2 in Hong Kong, south China, April 9, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

HONG KONG - This week in Victoria Harbor of Hong Kong, as the sea fog gradually cleared on Monday morning, a giant ship of red and white came into sight. It slowly sailed into Tsim Sha Tsui Ocean Terminal to began its visit to Hong Kong.

"Xue Long 2, Hong Kong welcomes you!" At the harborfront, some people chanted enthusiastically, waving the national flags in their hands.

Put into service in 2019, Xue Long 2 or Snow Dragon 2, measuring 122.5 meters long and 22.3 meters wide, is China's first domestically made polar icebreaker, capable of breaking ice 1.5 meters high and snow 0.2 meters thick

Put into service in 2019, Xue Long 2 or Snow Dragon 2, measuring 122.5 meters long and 22.3 meters wide, is China's first domestically made polar icebreaker, capable of breaking ice 1.5 meters high and snow 0.2 meters thick.

"This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's polar expedition, and Hong Kong was the first stop of Xue Long 2's homebound voyage after the country's 40th Antarctic expedition. This is a gift for us from the country," Ho Kin Chung, chairman of an executive committee of Xue Long 2's visit, said with excitement.

Twenty years ago, icebreaker Xue Long visited Hong Kong and was warmly welcomed. Now China has made remarkable achievements in polar exploration, making the people of Hong Kong feel excited and proud.

As early as in 1999, Ho boarded Xue Long to participate in China's first Arctic scientific expedition.

"Xue Long is an unidirectional icebreaker and it takes more than 10 hours to turn around in a fixed ice area. Xue Long 2 has the world's advanced bidirectional icebreaking technology, which can reduced the time to about half an hour," Ho said.

Ho Kin Chung, chairman of an executive committee of Xuelong 2's visit, speaks during an interview with Xinhua in Hong Kong, south China, April 9, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA))

The past 20 years since Xue Long's first visit to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) have witnessed steady advancements in China's capability to design and build the Antarctic research vessel, Ho said.

In 2004 when Xue Long came to Hong Kong, Ho was a visitor. This time he became an organizer of Xue Long 2's visit and engaged in the preparatory work from September last year.

During its stay in the HKSAR, China's 40th Antarctic expedition team shared stories of scientists' struggles in work and life in the polar regions with Hong Kong people

Xue Long 2 completed a five-day visit to Hong Kong and began its return journey to Shanghai on Friday. During its stay in the HKSAR, China's 40th Antarctic expedition team shared stories of scientists' struggles in work and life in the polar regions with Hong Kong people.

"The South Pole is extremely difficult," Wei Fuhai, deputy leader of the expedition team, said.

Extremely low temperature, sudden snowstorm and unknown abyss beneath the ice made each expedition not only a battle against the hostile environment, but also a test of the researchers' determination and perseverance to explore the polar world.

The Antarctic summer, which runs from December to February, is supposed to be the prime time for the research work. However, in January of this year, a sudden category 12 hurricane put the expedition team to face the biggest challenge of their Antarctic mission. 

Wei Fuhai, deputy leader of China's 40th Antarctic expedition team, speaks during an interview with Xinhua in Hong Kong, south China, April 9, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

"The team members were challenging their limits in the unknown test, in order to help mankind better understand the Antarctic, protect it and use it," Wei said.

The scientists' sharing has brought "polar spirit" to Hong Kong, enhancing young people's sense of national pride and encouraging students to pursue their dreams.

"When I realized that a group of Chinese polar explorers are making contributions to the development of mankind and the world, come rain or shine, there is an undescribable glory felt in my heart," Evelyn Ji, a student from Pui Kiu Middle School, said.

Evelyn Ji, a student from Pui Kiu Middle School, speaks during an interview with Xinhua in Hong Kong, south China, April 9, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Middle school student Chen Kai Yuan was deeply moved by the determination of the researchers to overcome difficulties and their selfless dedication. The young chemistry lover said he hopes to do something for China's polar expedition.

"I want to develop a medicine that can prevent frostbite in extremely cold weather, so that the team can carry out polar expedition safely," Chen, who aspires to be a pharmacist, said.

To help the young people in Hong Kong understand more about the polar regions and encourage them to devote themselves to related research fields, Ho founded Polar Research Institute of Hong Kong in 2018.

Chen Kai Yuan, a student from Pui Kiu Middle School, speaks during an interview with Xinhua in Hong Kong, south China, April 9, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

"I want to sow the seeds of polar exploration in the hearts of Hong Kong students," He said, hoping these seeds will one day take root, sprout, grow and bloom.