Located at the Jiangdong New District of Haikou City, the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NISCSS) specializes in research on issues of the South China Sea (SCS) and participates in related academic exchanges. Its predecessor, the Hainan Research Institute of South China Sea (HRISCS), was established in 1996. In July, 2004, the State Council upgraded the HRISCS to the national level and changed its name to the National Institute for South China Sea Studies. In order to promote SCS studies and improve academic network, the NISCSS Beijing Office was established in January, 2013.
After nearly 20 years of exploration and development, the NISCSS has formed a systematic scope of research，including the strategy of the SCS; the geopolitics of the SCS, including neighboring countries' policies on the SCS; international law and the SCS disputes; peaceful settlement of the Spratly Islands dispute; resources development and environmental protection in the SCS; the strategies, institutions and mechanisms for developing maritime economy and the building of the maritime silk road in the 21st century.
The NISCSS is composed of six sectors: Research Centre for Oceans Law and Policy, Research Centre for Maritime Economy, Research Centre for Marine Science, Research Centre for Maritime Silk Road, Division of International Exchanges (including the Beijing Office) and Administrative Office. It has over seventy members of staff and fifteen part-time senior research fellows, all of whom are eminent scholars from domestic and foreign universities or institutions.
Currently, the NISCSS has established academic cooperation with nearly one hundred famous think tanks from over twenty countries or regions, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan. In April, 2013, the Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies, composed of the NISCSS, Nanjing University and others, was incorporated into the first list of national collaborative innovation centers.
In 2011, the NISCSS moved to a new compound, which has a perfect set of facilities for research, conferences and training, including a library, the South China Sea Archives, conference rooms and a multi-functional auditorium. Notably, the library and the South China Sea Archives have a depository of tens of thousands of books in Chinese, English, French and Japanese, covering history, politics and natural science. There is also a precious collection of historical archives and documents related to the SCS.
The NISCSS has made great strides in academic research, producing multiple sensational works in Chinese or English, including "Origin and Development of the South China Sea Issue" and "Solving Disputes for Regional Cooperation and Development in the South China Sea: A Chinese Perspective". Every year, the research staff offers several hundred papers in Chinese or English and reports on policy recommendations. It has also established a series of famous academic projects, including Digital South China Sea, Professional Database on SCS Documents and Assessment Report on the Situation in the South China Sea. In order to bolster academic exchanges and dialogue with Taiwan and the rest of the international community, the NISCSS hosts a number of SCS-related academic conferences, including the Cross-Strait Forum on the South China Sea Issue and South China Sea-themed Sub-forum of Boao Forum for Asia. Today, the NISCSS has become an important base and think tank in South China Sea studies in China.