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International Conference - China and ASEAN Working Together to Build Security Cooperation Mechanisms in the South China Sea

21 – 22 November 2018
Shenzhen, China

The above conference was co-hosted by the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) and the China Institute for International Strategic Studies (CIISS). MIMA-CIISS cooperation in a Track 2 setting seeks to support the establishment of a rules-based framework with a set of norms to guide the conduct of parties and promote maritime cooperation in the South China Sea. As scholars, policy planners, and other representatives from agencies are key partners in supporting their governments in efforts to manage South China Sea disputes, the outcome of the conference will be an added contribution towards this end.

In his Opening Remarks First Admiral Dato’ Chin Yoon Chin (Ret.) Director General of MIMA noted that while ASEAN-China negotiations towards formulating a binding Code of Conduct (COC) and confidence building initiatives via Track 1.5 and Track 2 continue, the active participation and involvement in providing practical ideas and recommendation by think tanks in Malaysia-China are an added contribution. The Vice Chairman of CIISS, Major General Gong Xianfu remarked that 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership and that this conference serves as a significant way forward for China and ASEAN to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation and in promoting stability and security in the region.

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Group photo

In his Keynote Address, Sr. Captain Jiang Wen, Assistant Chief of Staff, Southern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) noted that regional countries should stay together in exchanging and expanding levels of cooperation for sustainable safety and security in the South China Sea. In working together, countries would march forward in formulating a grand action plan for sea cooperation in the region as stability and security is fundamental in the South China Sea.

The conference was divided into three groups covering Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), multilateral cooperation on counter-piracy and transnational organized crimes operations, and the governance of marine environmental protection as well as marine economy in the South China Sea.The respective groups presented their deliberations during the plenary session.

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Sr. Captain Jiang Wen presenting his Keynote Address

The conference addressed the need for capacity building and mobilization of resources as well as institutionalizing information and intelligence sharing. It also explored successful best practices on HADR cooperation, countering piracy, and marine environmental protection in the Southeast Asia for possible adoption in the South China Sea region. More significantly, the discussions emphasized the fundamental importance of mutual trust between China and ASEAN in having practical cooperation to create peace and stability in the South China Sea.

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Ms Sumathy Permal reporting on the outcomes of Group II during the Plenary

A field visit to the Shenzhen Reform and Opening-up Exhibition Hall was also organized to view an exhibition on the "Great Tides Surge along the Pearl River – 40 Years of Reform and Opening-up in Guangdong". Delegates were briefed on the rise of Shenzhen and the Guangdong's development, history, achievements, and experiences. Both MIMA and CIISS look forward to further collaboration to strengthen their interests in maritime related initiatives.

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