Hu Bo: Current Situation and Prospects of the South China Sea
On April 12, 2016, the Institute of International & Strategic Studies (IISS), Peking University (PKU) held the 6th seminar of “North Pavilion Seminar” series, inviting Hu Bo, Research Fellow of the Institute of Ocean Research, PKU, to give a keynote lecture on the topic of "current situation and prospects in the South China Sea". The seminar was hosted by Gui Yongtao, Assistant President of IISS. Guan Guihai, Executive Vice President of IISS, as well as Liang Yunxiang, Chen Changwei, Jie Dalei and Liu Lianlian, scholars from the School of International Studies (SIS), PKU, participated in the discussion.
At the beginning of the lecture, Hu Bo pointed out clearly that "the South China Sea has never been a problem" and then he elaborated this view from three aspects. Firstly, on how to evaluate the current situation in the South China Sea, he believed that the situation is still "tense and complicated", but is far from the point of all-out confrontation and war.
Next, Hu Bo reviewed the past evolution and its cause of the situation in the South China Sea. He divided the evolution of situation in the South China Sea since 1949 into four stages, and held that since the 1990s, especially after 2012, the issue of South China Sea has started to become a game between major powers, especially an important contradiction between China and the U.S., and the U.S. is increasingly likely to exert pressure directly on China. Because of its rapid rise, China, in contrast, has been criticized and even curbed by opponents, even though its policy is consistent.
Looking in to the next five years, Hu Bo pointed out that three judgments can be made on the development of the situation. First, the tensions will continue. Second, the situation of disputes will not change much. Third, functional cooperation will be developed, of which cooperation on fishery is expected to have a breakthrough.
After the lecture, Hu Bo had a discussion with teachers and students at the seminar. Their topics included legal status of the South China Sea, effectiveness of "putting aside disputes and developing jointly", intervention of countries outside the region, China's strategic goals in the region, department coordination in China's policy, development of maritime police and Taiwan authorities’ policy and stand etc.
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