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Maritime silk road fosters ‘blue partnerships’

Updated: Jun 22,2017 9:37 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — Chinese authorities on June 20 released a vision for the top-down design for advancing maritime cooperation among countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, according to Wang Hong, head of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

The “Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative” states that China is willing to work closely with countries along the Road, engage in all-dimensional and broad-scoped maritime cooperation, build open and inclusive cooperation platforms, and establish a constructive and pragmatic Blue Partnership to forge a “blue engine” for sustainable development.

The priorities of the vision feature green development, ocean-based prosperity, maritime security, innovative growth, and collaborative governance. The vision also includes plans for three ocean-based “blue economic passages” that will connect Asia with Africa, Oceania, Europe and beyond.

This was the first time the Chinese government has systematically proposed a blueprint for advancing maritime cooperation among Belt and Road countries, Wang said.

Since the Chinese government issued the framework on jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in March 2015, remarkable achievements have been made in the countries along the route, he said.

Wang said the vision is a programmatic document that promotes the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the field of coasts and oceans.

It is a commitment to promoting employment, reducing poverty, and protecting and sustainably using maritime resources, Wang said.

He was echoed by Zhuang Guotu of Xiamen University, who said that maritime economy, especially port logistics, is an important aspect for deepening cooperation between China and other countries along the Road.

Over 60 percent of bilateral trade among ASEAN countries depends on port logistics. Routes involving Belt and Road countries dominate major routes in the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong, and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Zhuang said.

“As exchanges and cooperation in trade, investment and tourism increase between China and other countries along the Road, it has been an irresistible trend to expand cooperation in port industry, ocean shipping, logistics, informatization, and human resources,” said Zhuang.

As the maritime administrative authority of the Chinese government, the SOA will focus on promoting the vision in Belt and Road countries and stipulating more detailed policies and plans, Wang said.

Their different interests and needs will be respected.

The SOA will hold forums in the second half of this year to promote communication and exchanges in the plan-making process for maritime economy development and ocean space, as well as park design. Training on capacity building will be held to form more projects and promote the blue partnership mechanism.

Wang said more maritime public services and products will be provided to strengthen cooperation in maritime disaster prevention and mitigation. The building of the tsunami warning center in the South China Sea will be promoted.

Providing financial support is also among the tasks. The Export-Import Bank of China and the Bank of China will facilitate enterprises with businesses related to ocean to “go global” by providing financial means such as buyer’s credit.

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