China sets up joint research centre on SCS to assert claims

first_imgFrom K J M VarmaBeijing, Mar 25 (PTI) China today launched a joint research centre on the South China Sea in a bid to consolidate its hold over the disputed waters amid mounting pressure from the US and competing claims from a host of maritime neighbours.The China-Southeast Asia Research Centre on the South China Sea (CSARC) is aimed at strengthening academic and institutional exchanges and promote countries in the region to jointly maintain peace and stability in the sea, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.The inaugural ceremony of centre was held in Boao in south Chinas Hainan Province, site of the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) attended by several world dignitaries.The CSARC involves think-tanks in China and southeast Asian nations such as Chinas National Institute for South China Sea Studies and Indonesias Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the report said.”We plan to make the CSARC a platform for discussing the South China Sea (SCS) issue and a model for maritime research cooperation among countries in the region,” Wu Shicun, president of Chinas National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said.Wu said the CSARC will invite famous scholars on the SCS from home and abroad to be researchers, and it plans to hold frequent international symposiums and academic exchanges.Todays development comes amid escalation of tensions as China continues to flex muscles over the strategic waters.The SCS is rich in natural resources and is also a major shipping lane. Over half of the worlds commercial shipping passes through the Indo-Pacific waterways ? including one-third of the worlds liquefied natural gas.advertisementChina claims almost the whole of the SCS, resulting in overlapping claims with several other Asian nations like Vietnam and the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.They accuse China of illegally reclaiming land in contested areas to create artificial islands with military facilities.The US has sent its ships and aircraft to assert what it claims is freedom of navigation.A tribunal constituted under UN Convention of Law of Seas (UNCLOS) is hearing the Philippines to assert its claims over the SCS. China is boycotting the hearing, saying the claim has no legal standing.Speaking at a symposium on SCS today, Chinas Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin asked all sides to heed the negative impact brought by arbitration unilaterally lodged by the Philippines, and called for a return to the right path in solving disputes to maintain peace and stability. PTI KJV SAI AKJ SAIlast_img

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