Published: 19:50, April 12, 2024
HK bids farewell to polar icebreaker after inspiring five-day visit
By Xi Tianqi in Hong Kong
Xue Long 2, China’s first domestically built polar icebreaker, which has completed a five-day visit to Hong Kong, is officially departing from Hong Kong on April 12, 2024. It is accompanied and escorted by the Maritime Department, fireboats, and several fishing vessels as it sails along Victoria Harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lei Yue Mun. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

The nation's first domestically built polar icebreaker, Xue Long 2, and the polar scientists on board on Friday wrapped up an inspiring five-day visit, with nearly 100,000 people having participated in events related to the vessel’s visit during its time in the city.

Warm farewells were exchanged on the icebreaker’s departure: "Thank you, Hong Kong!"; and, from the crowd that had gathered to say goodbye: "Please come back again!"

The farewell ceremony was held on Friday afternoon at Tsim Sha Tsui's Ocean Terminal, where the ship had been docked for the past five days.

Xue Long 2, China’s first domestically built polar icebreaker, which has completed a five-day visit to Hong Kong, is officially departing from Hong Kong on April 12, 2024. It is accompanied and escorted by the Maritime Department, fireboats, and several fishing vessels as it sails along Victoria Harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lei Yue Mun. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

Lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, Ho Kin-chung, founder of the Green Future Foundation Association and the Polar Research Institute of Hong Kong, and Under Secretary for Environment and Ecology Diane Wong Shuk-han, were among those in the crowd – some of whom were waving national flags – bidding farewell to the Xue Long 2.

Wei Fuhai, deputy leader of the country’s 40th Antarctic expedition team that visited Hong Kong with the vessel, waved goodbye to the crowd on behalf of the visiting delegation, and took a group photo with Ma, Ho and Wong before boarding the vessel.

A fleet of government and civilian vessels escorted the Xue Long 2 through Victoria Harbour as it embarked on its return journey to its homeport in Shanghai, where the icebreaker will be prepared for its next voyage to the polar regions.

Nearly 100,000 people have boarded the vessel or attended seminars, artistic performances, exhibitions and sharing sessions related to the icebreaker’s visit since its arrival in the city Monday, the visit’s organizer said.

Ma, who chaired the organizing committee for the various events, said the five-day visit – which included an open ship tour and a video dialogue between Hong Kong students and the scientists in Antarctica — has served as a catalyst for Hong Kong residents to gain a deeper understanding of nation's groundbreaking polar scientific research, and highlighted the urgent need to address climate change.

Ma said that numerous schools and students had participated in the events, and that the immersive experience the events had provided had ignited a passion for scientific research among the younger generation, inspiring them to consider a future involvement in such endeavors.

Looking ahead, Ma said he hopes there will be broader collaboration between Hong Kong researchers and their counterparts across the nation, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas and expertise in polar research.

 

Contact the writer at lindaxi@chinadailyhk.com