An informal discussion was held between scholars of think tank from southeast Asian nations and experts in the School of International Relations from 10am to 11.30am on June 23, 2016. Made up of experts on various fields from different countries in southeast Asia, the scholar investigation group was invited by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and was led by Rosanne, the Executive Director of Brunei Darussalam Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies. During the mere one and a half hours, both sides deeply discussed issues on South China Sea, China-ASEAN international relations, as well as the Belt and Road in a lively atmosphere.
At the beginning of the discussion, experts from ASEAN and the School of International Relations discussed the dispute between Chinese fishermen and Indonesia in the South China Sea. Associate professor Xuke and associate professor Linmei stated their opinions respectively when asked about the topic. Xuke thought that the US added fuel to the fire and that the effective negotiation between the two sides was the key to the problem. Xu cited the dispute between fishermen in Guangxi Province and Vietnam as an example to show that the dispute was properly solved through negotiation and communication. He believed that one-to-one negotiation was the most useful solution to the problem though many history factors were included in the dispute between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea. Besides, another important reason for the dispute, as Linmei argued, was the information asymmetry, which may explain why fishermen often inadvertently engaged in the fishing activities in the territorial sea of Indonesia.
As to the China-ASEAN political relations, scholars in the delegation expressed their worry about the development of the political situation after the rise of China and doubted China’s inclination for a one-to-one negotiation rather than a one-to-many negotiation during the process of negotiation with ASEAN. As Xuke stated, the rise of China was an undoubted fact, and the strengthening national power threatened neighboring countries, especially in the intricate international environment. Bilateral economic relationship, however, will be surely strengthened thanks to the deeper mutual understanding and the proposal of the Belt and Road. The key to relaxing tension was the construction of mutual trust and a deeper understanding between two nations.
Finally, scholars in the School of International Relations answered the questions regarding to the development strategy of the Belt and Road raised by scholars of ASEAN in detail. This academic exchange not only contributes to a better understanding of China and the development strategy of the Belt and Road but also deepens the mutual understanding and inclusiveness.
Scholars from both sides expressed their thanks and promised further academic exchanges to prompt understanding.
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