Regional maritime cooperation would reap rewards

By Jin Yongming| (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-10-11

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Qingdao is a hub for both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road, as it is linked to the world with one of the largest seaports in China and the overland Eurasian Continental Bridge. Provided to China Daily

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative meets the world's needs for international cooperation, peace, prosperity, opening-up, innovation and communication, which is why it has gained the support of over 100 countries and regions.

The principle of achieving shared growth through discussions and collaboration on an equal footing, and the foundation of infrastructure connectivity, have been a strong impetus for the initiative, in which the envisioned 21st Century Maritime Silk Road traverses the oceans.

To advance the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, it is necessary to develop the maritime economy and maritime technology.

China should cooperate with other countries to further develop the maritime economy. In particular, it should enhance its cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in maritime fields with low sensitivity and improve coordination with the ASEAN members to realize a maritime green economy.

Maritime industry is a main pillar of the maritime economy, which includes development, utilization and protection of maritime spaces and resources. Fishing, shipping and submarine oil and gas exploitation utilize maritime space and maritime resources, while shipbuilding, steel, mechanics and electronics are fundamental services for these maritime industries. The cooperation of China and neighboring countries to develop the maritime economy will also help achieve the goal of a new type of international relations based on mutual benefit and reciprocity.

According to the China Marine economic statistics bulletin (2013-2017) of China's State Oceanic Administration, the added value of China's maritime economy is concentrated in the tertiary sector, especially coastal tourism, and traditional industry such as maritime transportation and fishery. Data for the first half of 2018 released by the Ministry of Natural resources show an upward trend of maritime emerging industries, such as renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and biological products and desalination.

Improving the oceanic industry by means of complementary cooperation is important for China-ASEAN cooperation.

Four measures should be taken to promote maritime economic cooperation. There should be an international platform for maritime information sharing and communication.

Countries should collaborate on key maritime technology to merge advantages to accelerate joint research, as well as reduce costs and development risks in emerging industries.

Cooperation among countries requires a coordinated management system. Countries should arrange training and exchanges to cultivate special personnel to implement and improve the coordinated management system.

After all the preparation, countries should put up a rating system to evaluate the results of multilateral cooperation. Countries participating in regional maritime industry cooperation therefore need unified criteria to manage, evaluate and improve their cooperation.

Cooperation at different levels and scales in the maritime industry would not only enhance mutual trust among countries and increase the achievements of the maritime economy, but also promote the development of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. China and the ASEAN should agree on the goals of maritime cooperation and make concrete efforts to achieve them.

The author is a researcher at the Institute of Law, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, and director of the Marine Strategy Research Office at the China Ocean Development Research Center.