This thesis explores the political and cultural implications of China’s polar research vessels, the Xue Long and the Xue Long 2. Through a theoretical frame of technopolitics, it looks at how these vessels are perceived by their builders, operators and owners; and, how they come to constitute focal points within a broader range of technological, economic and geopolitical interests. Having introduced the methodological framework and the theoretical contributions that inform the analysis, the thesis first explores China’s polar icebreaker, the Xue Long, and the role it plays in realizing political and commercial interests, both in the Polar Regions as well as in the international community more generally. It discovers how the ship is employed as a platform for international cooperation and knowledge-transfer, while at the same time offering a singular venue for bilateral- and multilateral engagements. Secondly, the development history of the newly developed Xue Long 2, China’s second polar icebreaker, is traced, highlighting the various non-scientific interests in developing the new research vessel. Later, it discusses how this project is positioned within the polar shipbuilding sector and how it is leveraged in the international discourse on standard-setting of polar vessels.