South China Sea: Beijing could do more to ease tensions, build trust with neighbors, experts say

„Secondly, in the near future, countries in the region are doing the hard work of diplomacy to develop mechanisms to peacefully resolve differences and collectively benefit from the South China Sea,” he said.

„I am committed to working toward a second future — one that is not in the interests of one country, but that benefits all,” Orlins said.

China and the Philippines have recently been embroiled in a dispute in the South China Sea, including repeated run-ins between their maritime law enforcement units. They both accused each other of provoking each other and warned that the accident could inflame tensions or trigger a military conflict.

China's annual Bao Forum is billed as the equivalent of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Wu Shigun, founder of China's National Institute of South China Sea Studies in Hainan, told a side forum that cooperation was the only way out of the impasse as there was no chance of a quick solution to the problem.

“The South China Sea issue involves territorial disputes and jurisdictional disputes that cannot be resolved in a short period of time. „The only path is collaboration, and marine science research is a relatively easy area to start collaboration,” Wu said.

Lack of confidence delays South China Sea rulebook writing: Maritime expert

He suggested that China could „provide more in the public interest” related to marine environmental protection to „build confidence in the South China Sea” and provide security services to neighboring countries.

„[China] „We can build a marine science laboratory on an island or reef and invite scientists from coastal countries to get involved in protecting against environmental degradation and resource depletion that we all face together,” he said.

However, Wu warned that international joint patrols could further endanger the stability of the South China Sea.

„Many countries are now offering to conduct joint patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea … their calculations are to expand their military presence in the region and gain geopolitical benefits,” Wu said, adding that Manila has yet to announce whether it will agree. Offers like

Therefore, in the long run, the risk of accidental incidents or conflicts in the air or at sea between China and other countries may increase, he said.

Yang Renhuo, deputy director-general of the Department of Border and Maritime Affairs under China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called for bold thinking to improve cooperation.

Negotiations involving territory and maritime rights „will take time and require patience”, but joint use and development can be discussed, he said during a separate panel discussion at the forum.

Yang suggested that China and ASEAN countries should discuss greater cooperation in the South China Sea, focusing on „less sensitive” projects such as environmental protection, scientific research, maritime search and rescue, combating transnational crime at sea and security. Sea navigation.

„China adopts an inclusive and pragmatic approach, based on not maintaining one's position or challenging the other side's position, to mitigate contradictions and differences, and strive for concrete gains,” Yang said.

Wang Sheng, president of China's National Institute of South China Sea Studies, echoed Yang's comments, saying fisheries and disaster mitigation and prevention are potential fields for cooperation.

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Why is the Philippines aligning itself with the US after years of close China ties under Duterte?

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He advocated the establishment of multinational joint scientific studies in strategic waters and joint law enforcement around less sensitive issues.

„This operational cooperation will help defuse the tense situation caused by sovereignty disputes and create better conditions for promoting integrated development in the South China Sea,” Wang said.

Meanwhile, Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) S. Jane Chan, a maritime security affairs expert at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said regional leaders were not paying enough attention to the safety and security of critical infrastructure in the South China Sea.

„While the majority of cases of damage are accidents, recent developments further away from the region suggest that these infrastructures are vulnerable to deliberate and malicious targeting and sabotage,” he told the sub-forum, apparently referring to the recent Red Sea crisis. The Houthis attacked and captured the ships.

Elsewhere, last year's damage to an undersea gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia – suspected to be deliberate.

China has warned that closer military ties between the US and the Philippines could trigger conflict

The South China Sea is a popular and useful location for undersea cable routes connecting large parts of Asia and Africa. Submarine cables carry most international Internet traffic.

According to the United Nations, one-third of world shipping passes through the South China Sea, underscoring its importance to international trade.

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