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Remarks at the ARF Seminar on Maritime Risks Management and Cooperation

2015/12/18

Beijing, 14 December 2015

General Liu Yazhou, Political Commissar of the National Defense University of the PLA,
Lieutenant General Zhou Aimin, Chinese Co-Chair and Vice President of the National Defense University,
Mr. Kan Pharidh, Cambodian Co-Chair and Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

It's my great pleasure to attend the ARF Seminar on Maritime Risks Management and Cooperation. On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I wish to warmly welcome all the distinguished guests present, and thank our Cambodian co-chair for the strong support to this workshop. I also want to thank the National Defense University for the great deal of work it has done to put this workshop together.

Some say that the 21st century is a century of ocean. Since the beginning of the new century, the ocean has become increasingly important to the development and security of all countries. Many countries have started to implement the development strategy with the ocean at its core, including China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative and Indonesia's Global Maritime Fulcrum Plan. Against this backdrop, maritime security in the region has become more important.

As we speak, maritime security situation in the Asia-Pacific is on the whole stable. Countries in the region are making new progress in developing and using marine resources, which has contributed a lot to their economic growth. Sea lines of communications in the region are kept unobstructed, and there is no problem with freedom of navigation. As an important trade distribution center, the Asia-Pacific has maintained growth in regional and external trade. These all prove that maritime security in the Asia-Pacific is guaranteed.

On the other hand, maritime security risks in the region are on the rise. In particular, non-traditional security threats have become more prominent. In recent years, we have seen frequent natural disasters such as earthquake, hurricane and tsunami, a growing number of maritime emergencies including offshore oil spill, leakage of hazardous chemicals and shipwreck, and frequent incidents of piracy, transnational crime, smuggling and illegal fishing.

Due to outdated navigation facilities, some important sea lines of communications are facing growing pressure. In addition, lack of mutual trust and misunderstanding in traditional security areas have also brought certain risks to maritime security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

It is our common responsibility to uphold maritime peace and security, and it serves our common interests. It takes the concerted efforts of all countries in the region, not that of any particular one, to manage maritime security risks. China is ready to work closely with all countries in the region to address challenges, promote the development of harmonious, peaceful, secure and open ocean, and share the opportunities and resources from the ocean.

― First, China will continue to promote maritime non-traditional security cooperation. To deepen regional cooperation on search and rescue, China facilitated the adoption of the Statement on Strengthening Coordination and Cooperation on Maritime and Aeronautical Search and Rescue at the ARF ministerial meeting last year, in an attempt to explore more effective and convenient modalities of search and rescue cooperation and coordination in the Asia-Pacific.

To strengthen cooperation on maritime environmental protection, China and relevant countries have in the past two years co-hosted two ARF workshops and adopted two statements on cooperation in marine oil spill and marine environmental protection. This week, China, Brunei, Thailand and the United States will hold the third workshop that focuses on emergency response management and disposal cooperation.

China will uphold the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and expand bilateral and multilateral cooperation with other regional countries, with the focus on maritime search and rescue and marine environmental protection, so as to make greater contribution to managing non-traditional maritime security threats.

― Second, China will continue to uphold the security of sea lines of communications. China has actively participated in the cooperation on navigation safety and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca, and provided technical and financial support to the Aids to Navigation Fund and to the establishment of measurement systems by littoral states.

China has actively engaged in international cooperation in combating piracy, and has dispatched, over the past seven years, 22 groups of naval ships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast for escort missions. Over 6,000 ships have been protected and half of them are from foreign countries. As one of the founding members of ReCAAP, China has actively supported the capacity building and development of its Information Sharing Center. China is ready to strengthen information exchange, joint training and exercise with the armed forces, maritime law enforcement and maritime management agencies of other countries, so as to enhance capacity building and better enable regional countries to maintain smooth and safe sea lines of communications.

― Third, China will continue to improve code of conduct for maritime safety. Under China's initiative, the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) was adopted at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium held in China last year. Later, China and the United States conducted several exercises on CUEs, and China is discussing with ASEAN countries to conduct a similar exercise next year.

Last year, the Chinese and US defense ministries signed the MOU on Notification of Major Military Activities Confidence-Building Measures Mechanism and the MOU on the Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters. This year the two ministries signed two annexes on the notification of military crisis and on the rules of behavior on air encounters. These mechanisms are important for the two sides to enhance strategic trust, avoid misunderstanding, miscalculation and incidents at sea or in air. Going forward, China is ready to expand discussions with other parities on the codes of conduct and crisis management at sea under the regional multilateral security framework, in order to build a stable and reliable institutional framework for maritime security.

― Fourth, China will remain committed to peaceful resolution of maritime disputes. In recent year, the South China Sea issue has attracted much attention. Some countries have deliberately exaggerated tension in the South China Sea. As a matter of fact, China and ASEAN countries, through effective dialogue and communication, have maintained overall peace and stability in the South China Sea. China and ASEAN jointly proposed the "dual-track" approach, which means that relevant disputes are to be resolved by sovereign states directly concerned through negotiations, while peace and stability in the South China Sea be jointly upheld by China and ASEAN countries working together.

China and ASEAN countries are now committed to the practical cooperation within the framework of the full and effective implementation of the DOC. Consultations on a COC are well underway, and many agreements on early harvest have been reached, including setting up a senior officials' hotline for maritime emergencies. At the same time, all sides are exploring the formulation of the Preventive Measures on Managing Risks at Sea based on China's proposal. All these will help effectively manage maritime situation and avoid unexpected incidents, pending the final conclusion of a COC.

China hopes that countries outside the region would respect and support the efforts of regional countries to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea, play a positive and constructive role, and refrain from taking any actions that may escalate tension in the region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

The ARF has, since its inception, put maritime security cooperation as one of its priorities and conducted fruitful cooperation in this field. I hope that through this workshop, you could have full and sincere exchange of views, and share your insights on resolving maritime risks and promoting maritime security cooperation. I also hope that all ARF participating members could make better use of the forum, conduct cooperation with innovative models and in more areas, and make greater contribution to maritime security, prosperity and stability in the region.

Finally, I wish this workshop a complete success.

Thank you.

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