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The Closed-door Session of South China Sea Sub-forum of Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021 Concluded Successfully

2021-05-13 10:37:31       source:NISCSS

On 21 April, 2021, the closed-door session of South China Sea Sub-forum of Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021 jointly organized by the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NISCSS), China-Southeast Asia Research Center on the South China Sea (CSARC) and BFA Secretariat concluded successful in Bo’ao.

The conference brought together more than 200 experts, scholars and diplomats either attending the meeting in Bo’ao or giving online presentations. They come from over 70 institutions including NISCSS, China Institute of International Studies, China Institute for Reform and Development, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Taiwan Center for Security Studies, the Institute for China-America Studies, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Nanjing University, Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Xiamen University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Alberta in Canada, the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Malaysia, Singapore Institute of International Affairs, Asian Vision Institute in Cambodia, National University of Singapore, China Council for International Investment Promotion, Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia, Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation in the Philippines, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Japan, Fenech & Fenech Advocates in Malta, etc.

Mr. Yang Renhuo, Representative for Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attended the conference. Ms. Signe Brudeset, Ambassador of Norway to China, Mr. William Klein, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy Beijing and diplomat envoys from Thailand and Europe Union attended the Conference as observers. Dr. Wu Shicun delivered opening and concluding speeches.


Focusing on the theme of “South China Sea Cooperation and New Order Construction”, participants conducted in-depth discussions over the topics such as “Cooperation between Coastal States in the South China Sea amidst COVID-19”, “South China Sea Situation and Crisis Management”, “Ocean Governance and Rules Building in the South China Sea” and “RCEP and Hainan Free Trade Port Development”.

Dr. Wu Shicun stated in his speech that the South China Sea is the common homeland of China and ASEAN countries. Carrying out pragmatic maritime cooperation and establishing a regional ocean governance mechanism are of special and important significance for building a maritime community with shared future and promoting sustainable development of the ocean. In particular, the South China Sea is not only facing challenges in traditional security fields such as maritime disputes and geopolitical competition, but also problems in non-traditional security fields such as marine resource depletion, ecological degradation, piracy and armed robbery. It is thus urgent to strengthen regional maritime cooperation. China and ASEAN countries should move towards each other, steadily advance consultations on the “Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC)”, speed up the implementation of practical maritime cooperation under the framework of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Both sides shall build the South China Sea into a sea of cooperation starting from low-sensitive areas such as fisheries, humanitarian rescue, and ecological and environmental protection. The signing of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the construction of Hainan Free Trade Port have created new opportunities for maritime cooperation on the South China Sea region. Relevant countries outside the region should play a constructive role in cooperation with coastal countries in the South China Sea, and should not regard the South China Sea as a battlefield for geopolitical interests. Dr. Wu Shicun pointed out that since its establishment, the South China Sea Sub-forum has been held for many years to provide a platform for think tanks, international organizations, scholars, and government officials that are committed to promoting maritime cooperation to exchange ideas and share experiences. He sincerely hoped that this track-two dialogue mechanism can contribute to the establishment of a new order for ocean governance in the South China Sea.

In the discussion, Mr. William Klein said that the U.S.’s policy stance of “not choosing sides” on the South China Sea disputes has never changed, and stressed that the settlement of the South China Sea disputes should be based on international law. He said there are misunderstandings about the interaction between China and the U.S. regarding the South China Sea issue. Both sides do not understand each other’s strategic intentions, and both believe that each other’s actions are a challenge to their own interests. These misunderstandings are the main reason for the escalation of competition between the two countries. Therefore, bilateral dialogue and exchanges should be strengthened to eliminate the misunderstandings.


The delegates at the conference agreed that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has a profound and complicated impact on the world situation, the international pattern and the situation in the South China Sea. Littoral countries in the region should shelve disputes, strengthen cooperation in areas such as crisis management, fishery resource conservation, biodiversity protection, and sea-related public health governance. Although the cooperation in South China Sea region faces various challenges, such increasingly severe challenges make dialogue, communication and cooperation more and more necessary and urgent.