Maritime Security and Partnership: A Chinese Perspective


The following article based on the speech delivered by Rear Admiral Wang Dazhong, Chief of the Naval Staff – Assistant to Chief of Staff PLA Navy at the Galle Dialogue 2016, International Maritime Conference organized by Sri Lanka Navy

by Rear Admiral Wang Dazhong

( December 1, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I am very glad to come to the beautiful city of Galle and discuss maritime security and cooperation with colleagues of various navies. First, on behalf of Admiral WU Shengli, Commander-in-Chief of the PLA Navy, and in my personal name, I would like to congratulate our host for the successful organization of this Dialogue and express our gratitude to the Sri Lanka Ministry of Defense and the Sri Lanka Navy for inviting the PLA Navy. I would also like to avail this opportunity to express our greetings to colleagues and friends of various navies.

Since its first conference in 2010, Galle Dialogue has become an important platform in improving mutual trust, achieving consensus and deepening cooperation for various navies, with growing participants, broader areas for discussion, and stronger representation. It has played a positive role in maintaining maritime security and promoting mutual development. The conference this year, which is themed on “Fostering Strategic Maritime Partnerships”, will definitely bring international maritime pragmatic cooperation to a new height. Here, I would like to share my view on the theme.

  1. We have been actively advocating a new concept of maritime security centered on 4Cs.

The ocean is the cradle of life, the tie that links the world, and a rich mine of various resources. Through the human history of civilization, the ocean has been playing an ever greater influence on the development of mankind. The growth of a country, the welfare of the people, and the advancement of the society, are all closely connected with the ocean.

China’s development cannot manage without the ocean, and the prosperity of the ocean also needs China. China is one of the earliest countries that explored the ocean. As early as 580 years ago, ZHENG He, the great navigator in the Ming Dynasty, conducted 7 voyages to the Western Seas, setting an example of friendly communication and mutual prosperity at sea for the world. At present, following the Chinese historical gene of “united, harmonious, and coordinated growth”, we are actively promoting the “Belt and Road” initiative. The “Road”, which means “the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century”, is designed to utilize the connectivity and convenience of the ocean to bring together various economy blocks along the South China Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean for the economic growth and the prosperity of the ocean.

History has repeatedly proven that development and prosperity cannot be achieved without peace and stability. It is commonly agreed that the present maritime security situation is stable on the whole. However, traditional and non-traditional security threats still exist; historical issues and conflicts in immediate interests are interwoven; the conflict between sustainable development and deteriorated maritime environment has become more outstanding; hotspots, sensitive issues and incidents at sea are frequent. Maritime security issues are becoming more and more diversified, complicated, and comprehensive.

In face with these new characteristics of maritime security situation, we have been actively advocating and practicing the new concept of maritime security centered on “common security, comprehensive security, cooperative security, and sustainable security”. “Common security” aims at common efforts in maintaining maritime security and shared benefits resulted from the maritime security; “Comprehensive security” aims at overall resolution of traditional and non-traditional maritime security issues and effective handling of various maritime risks and challenges; “Cooperative security” aims at maritime security through win-win cooperation; “Continuous security” aims at balanced focus on security and development and favorable interaction between the two. This new concept of maritime security reflects the trend of peaceful development of our times and represents the common interests of various countries in the world.

The security of various countries are closely related. No country can stand aloof over security, and no country is omnipotent. We navies should take the new concept of maritime security as our common principle, jointly push forward and deepen strategic maritime partnership to build the human destiny community.

  1. We have been taking the equal, open and cooperative road of maritime security.

On the latest G20 summit in Hangzhou, President Xi Jinping solemnly promised that China will unswervingly take the road of peaceful development and that China will always be the builder and maintainer of world peace. China has been practicing a defensive defense policy. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been making its own contribution to maintaining regional security. The PLA Navy, upholding the new concept of maritime security, has also been taking unremitting efforts in maintaining maritime security and promoting prosperity of the ocean.

We have been carrying out military operations under the authorization of the United Nations and within the framework of international laws. Since 2008, PLA Navy has dispatched 75 ships in 24 escort task groups to the Gulf of Aden, providing escort for more than 6,100 ship-times, among which over 50% are foreign flagged shipping. Besides that, we have also provided close-quarter escort for 10 vessels chartered by World Food Program (WFP), escorted 20 convoys of ships carrying chemical weapons out of Syria, provided fresh water for Male of Maldives in emergency, and evacuated 897 people of 16 countries from Yemen.

We have been fulfilling common maritime security duty and responsibility. Our hospital ship Ark Peace, a ship of life that spreads mercy, went overseas in 6 consecutive years to provide medical and HADR services. She navigated 3 oceans, reached 29 countries and regions on 5 continents, conducted more than 1,000 surgeries, and treated over 110,000 patients.

We have developed friendly and cooperative relationships with various navies. So far, the PLA Navy have received more than 310 ships from 38 countries and sent nearly 200 ships to visit 83 countries. We have also sent over 60 high-level delegations to participate in international/multilateral conferences. In the meantime, the PLA Navy has been actively participating in bilateral and multilateral combined exercises and trainings. In this year alone, we have organized and participated in over 10 exercises, with expanded subjects and scope.

  1. We have been working to foster the “mutually built, commonly shared, and win-win” strategic maritime partnership.

As a Chinese saying goes, “people with one mind will move the mountain”. We will, as good partners and good friends, build a fair and just new order of international maritime security through concerted efforts. For that, I have the following propositions.

We  should  work  to  increase  maritime  strategic  mutual  trust  and  become partners who build dreams together. Besides bilateral security dialogues and exchanges through high-level reciprocal visits and hotlines, we need also strengthen communications and exchanges at various levels through multilateral platforms such as International Seapower Symposium, West Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), and Galle Dialogue to deepen mutual understanding, increase mutual trust, achieve extensive consensus, and make our due contribution to the common goal of maritime security and stability and the long-lasting prosperity of the ocean.

We should mutually pay due respect to maritime concerns of each other and become partners who are close friends on equal basis. Our appeal is that all countries, no matter their size or strength, should have an equal voice in making international rules, share common responsibilities in executing these rules, and stick to uniform standards in handling international maritime issues. At present, we need to work together to well utilize CUES and make timely amendments, so as to effectively regulate behaviors concerning maritime security.

We should expand the scope of maritime exchanges and become partners who help each other in times of difficulty. Through academic exchanges, onboard internship, characteristic games, exchange training, and other means, we can establish the mechanism of regular exchange between professional groups, faculty of academies, and junior officers. It will serve as a bridge of friendship and mutual reinforcement, through which expanded and in-depth exchange of personnel will be possible. We need also push forward bilateral and multilateral maritime exercises and trainings with richer content and increased difficulty and intensity, through which our capabilities of mutually handling maritime security threats will be increased.

We need to join hands in handling challenges at sea and become partners of mutual beneficial and win-win cooperation. The “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century” proposed by China will combine the fast-growing economy of China with the development interests of countries along the road. We navies should aim at shared responsibility, development, and prosperity, and establish an effective and efficient emergency response mechanism to solve maritime security issues, control maritime security risks, avert conflict through fusion of interests, and achieve organic unification of security and development in key areas like dealing with maritime friction and conflict, maintaining the safety of maritime strategic passage, and maritime disaster relief.

The sea is wide enough for fish to swim, and the sky is spacious enough for birds to fly. I believe that with our joint efforts and deepened strategic maritime partnerships, the big ship of cooperation for various navies will proudly ride the winds and break the waves of the Indian Ocean, and the grand objective of maritime security and stability and long-lasting prosperity at sea will surely be achieved.


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