Can Australia move beyond disputes in the South China Sea?

Published 31 July 2016

The South China Sea encompasses the Strait of Malacca, one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, and is also one of the world’s richest marine biodiversity areas, with abundant and diverse marine resources such fish, oil and gas.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 9.08.18 amWhile China’s recent activity in the region has strained geopolitical relationships with the United States, University of New England academic in the School of Law, Dr Nengye Liu, believes Australia can contribute to sound solutions to solve disputes in the region.

“Australia has no claim in the South China Sea, which allow us to play a neutral role in the region,” Dr Liu said.

“Many of our important trading partners are in that region, e.g. China and Indonesia; or rely heavily on the South China Sea as trade route, like Japan and Korea.

“I therefore believe a peaceful South China Sea is of strategic importance for Australia’s national security and economy.”

Prominent national and international academics and government officials from various backgrounds (Australian, Chinese, Pilipino, Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai) and disciplines (international law, international relations) will meet in Armidale today to discuss how Australia can best move beyond disputes in the South China Sea.

Four major research questions will be considered:

  • What exactly are countries fighting for in the South China Sea?
  • What are the implications of the Philippines vs. China arbitration for the South China Sea?
  • How can Australia build peace in the South China Sea?
  • And, how do we protect the marine environment in disputed waters?

An Australian strategy in relation to the South China Sea will also be discussed.

The round table expects to produce academic publications and policy briefs for Australian government bodies, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that can inform smarter strategy.

“Contributing to solutions will not only enhance our reputation as a credible partner for countries in the Asia-Pacific region, but will showcase our leadership and diplomacy in the Asian Century.

Contact Dr Nengye Liu on 0478 746 871 for more information.