China’s vision of global ocean governance through maritime cooperation – Analysis – Eurasia Review
Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi of the People’s Republic of China delivered his opening speech at the International Symposium on Maritime Cooperation and Ocean Governance organized in Sanya by the China-Asia Research Center of Southeastern South China Sea (CSARC) and the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NISCSS) on November 9-10, 2021. In his opening speech, the Chinese State Councilor spoke stressed the importance of global maritime cooperation in order to pursue effective governance of the world’s oceans. He also called for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of the Parties in the South China Sea and the conclusion of the negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.
State Councilor Wang is a senior official who has also served as China’s Foreign Minister since 2013. As a seasoned diplomat, he has traveled the world to see the enormous value of the ocean, which it rightly describes it as the “cradle of life”.
He regrets, however, that “the marine ecosystem is worsening and that global ocean governance is faced with a myriad of challenges”. While he does not explain in his brief speech the extent of the damage to the global ocean, he strongly suggests the following efforts to protect the global marine environment:
- Engage in multilateralism and jointly safeguard the maritime order by mainly defending the international system centered on the UN;
- Remain engaged in dialogue and consultation and jointly promote ocean peace by rejecting aggression and expansion and respecting the legitimate pursuit of maritime interests by all others;
- Remain committed to openness and inclusiveness and jointly deepen maritime cooperation by defending the principle of shared benefits and shared governance; and,
- Remain committed to green development and jointly protect the marine environment by “making sustained efforts to strengthen the prevention and control of marine pollution, protect marine biodiversity and promote the orderly development and use of marine resources”.
State Councilor Wang’s proposals reaffirm the positions of many academics and experts on the need to continue maritime cooperation in order to manage maritime conflicts between nations. His proposals also support President Xi Jinping’s Global Development Initiative on 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Blue Economy Partnership. Its proposals apparently express China’s vision of a green maritime order, which is the construction of a global maritime community with a common future that protects not only human needs but also the needs of other living beings and of the whole world. maritime ecosystem.
There is no doubt that State Councilor Wang’s proposals contain many innovative ideas that developing countries can share and embrace, especially those participating in China’s global development efforts through the Belt and Road Initiative. the Road (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. (RCEP), among others.
However, without the appreciation and support of the United States and other great powers, China will struggle to realize its comprehensive vision of maritime cooperation to pursue ocean governance. In fact, China’s initiatives proposed by State Council Wang may even intensify China’s growing competition with the United States under President Joe Biden, who is also firmly committed to reaffirming American world leadership on various issues. , in particular those affecting the maritime domain.
The United States sees itself as a maritime nation and a dominant global maritime power. Thus, he developed a sense of the right to speak on questions relating to the maritime domain. When other great powers speak of the maritime domain, the United States will therefore take it for an intrusion on their territory. But in his speech, Wang stressed: “We oppose that some countries, in order to safeguard maritime hegemony, display their forces and form cliques at sea, and continue to infringe on legitimate rights and interests and laws of other countries.
While China may attract the support of the developing world in its campaign for multilateral maritime cooperation because of its inclusive and open character, without the support of the developed world that once ruled the oceans, such as the United States and the Kingdom United, China’s global efforts may simply exacerbate existing rivalries between the great powers.
It is therefore essential for China to reach out and discuss with other great powers, in particular with the United States, in order to find common ground to work together to develop a common framework for global ocean governance. The planned virtual summit between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden offers a golden opportunity for the two leaders to discuss global maritime cooperation at the 21st century, accurately described by Wang State Council as a century of the ocean.
Effective global ocean governance can only be achieved if China, the United States and other great powers unite decisively to lead the world towards maritime cooperation.
The author is president of the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies (PACS) and a board member of the China-Southeast Asia Research Center in the South China Sea (CSARC). He is a professor in the Department of International Studies at Miriam College and an adjunct professor at the National Institute of South China Sea Studies (NISCSS).