Fourteen members of the US Congressional Staff Delegation visited the Institute of Ocean Research of Peking University on June 1st. The visit was organized jointly by the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People's Congress and the National Committee on US-China Relations with a topic of informal scholarly communication about the South China Sea issues. This conversation was hosted by Professor Zha Daojiong of the Institute of Ocean Research and School of International Studies. Professor Chen Yifeng from Law School also attended and delivered a speech.
Professor Zha Daojiong
At the beginning of the conversation, Professor Zha made a brief statement of several key topics between both Countries, including the issue of nine-dotted line, the cross purpose on the South China Sea dispute between China and Southeast Asia, the differences of opinion on freedom of the sea and the negotiation and cooperation between the U.S. and China in East Asia. Zha pointed out that although there do exist dispute on the issue of the South China Sea and divergence about the freedom of navigation, there remains to be much room for further cooperation and development, such as protecting the navigation safety of the commercial flight, facilitating advanced management of regional fishery industry, maintaining security of submarine cable, etc.
After Zha's speech, members from the U.S. delegation raised questions about the issues which Professor Zha had mentioned. Questions were mainly focused on two parts, the "cooperation in the South China Sea" and the "free navigation". Both sides of representatives took part in the heated discussion about some specific issues, such as "actions against illegal fishing", "the reason why Chinese Navy are poised for restricting the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea". Zha friendly explained the divergence in the idea of navigation freedom between two countries and further illustrated that China had always been devoting to protecting the navigation freedom in the South China Sea and also trying to keep the shipping lanes open and safe. However, as for those so called commercial shipping with military purpose, different treatment would be conducted.
Professor Chen Yifeng addressed a supplement speech as for relevant international law and world opinion from perspectives of the law and the reality. He advised that when concerning to the South China Sea dispute, Southeast Asian countries owned a distinct division. The international law could only exert limited influences on issues in this area, but it seems that this law has been used frequently as the protecting tool for media to report relevant issues.
Group photo of participants
This conversation is a successful communication between scholars in China and the U.S. and also an effective and meaningful method for representatives from these two countries to get in touch more and learn more about each other.