China breaks national record for Mariana Trench manned-dive amid race for deep sea resources

The submersible called “Fendouzhe” or “Striver” landed on the ocean floor at the bottom of the deepest oceanic trench on earth Tuesday morning, Xinhua said after leaving Hainan Province in China a month earlier.

The dive surpassed China’s previous dive in the Mariana Trench by over 800 meters, but narrowly missed the world record for the deepest dive in the Mariana Trench.

The current world record was believed to have been set by American underwater researcher Victor Vescovo, who claimed to have reached a depth of 10,927 meters in May 2019.

China’s destinations for diving aren’t just scientific research, however. Ye Cong, the submersible’s chief designer, told Chinese state media that the seabed is rich in resources.

High-tech diving equipment can help us better draw a “treasure map” of the deep sea, Ye said in an interview quoted by Xinhua.

In a commentary on the dive, published in the official WeChat report of the overseas edition of People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, the author said deep-sea exploration is important to “international strategic landscape.” to understand better.

“For example, Japan recently discovered rare earth resources in the Pacific, where recoverable reserves are said to be 1,000 times greater than on land. The ocean floor is a whole new world. If we don’t explore this world, others will.” explore, “said the comment.

Rare earths, which are essential for the manufacture of high-tech products such as smartphones, missile systems and radar, are currently largely controlled by China. Beijing is working hard to maintain its dominance in this area. In July, the Chinese government increased its quota for rare earth mining to a record high of 140,000 tons (140 million kilograms). According to the state-run China Daily, Chinese companies have invested in rare earth companies in Greenland when economic opportunities arise in the Arctic.

But it faces stiff competition from countries around the world.

In 2018, Japanese researchers made a so-called “groundbreaking” discovery on their small island of Minamitori in the Pacific, where millions of tons of extremely valuable rare earths were discovered in the nearby deep-sea mud. In the same year, Reuters reported India was ready to spend more than $ 1 billion in a decade searching vast areas of the ocean floor for signs of rare earths or minerals that could potentially be extracted. The International Seabed Agency should agree to a mining law in mid-2020 China was just one of many nations lined up to explore and mine the seabed. However, there was no final agreement until October.

Additional coverage from CNN’s Beijing office.

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