In the past, the threats to national security were mainly from the land, but now they were from the sea, and therefore, the South China Sea issue was an issue related to the national overall development strategy, said Prof. Jin Yinan, the PLA Major General in his lecture entitled The South China Sea Issue and China’s Sea Power .
Prof. Jin Yinan clarified the impact of the South China Sea issue to China and the international community from three aspects in his lecture for the HUST 2125th Humanities Lecture on September 11 .
Firstly, the economic centers of China were highly concentrated in the coastal regions, as well as the human resources and the market. Meanwhile, the national economy had undergone the transition from internal economic cycle to external economic cycle, and the import and export trade had played a significant role. It was no doubt that the South China Sea was strategically important for China, because almost 85% of China’s import and export trade was inseparable from the sea lanes of the South China Sea. Hence a set of actions should be taken in the future. China should defend its position in the expanding space for economic activities and protect its maritime transport corridors and overseas assets. China should preserve its overseas resource market and product market and guarantee the safety of the overseas citizens and labor. And China should maintain its maritime rights and interests.
Secondly, the fundamental conflict over the South China Sea issue was the competition among countries and regions for maritime resources. Thus in the process of solving the South China Sea issue, China must establish a modern theory of sea power. Sea power was a state’s right to dominate the ocean, which included not only the total or partial control of the sea areas by navy forces but also the management of maritime commerce and ocean shipping industry. Previously China’s understanding of the ocean was embodied in the old saying “Live off food from the sea and take advantages of offshore navigation“, which suggested a lack of awareness of the importance of the ocean in general. In fact, the ocean could be a corridor toward the world, a major channel for economy and trade, a mass point of military strategy, and a brand-new strategic space. Fortunately, now China was gradually comprehending, absorbing and practicing the modern theory of sea power.
Thirdly, China was committed to the path of peaceful development on the South China Sea issue, but China would neither give up its legitimate rights and interests nor sacrifice its national interests. Prof. Jin YInan said the next twenty years was the pivotal period to determine whether China could stand in the list of developed countries. Whether China could achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation or not depended on its ability to seize the opportunity and to overcome the challenge. Only when China run its affairs well and develop its country well can it be in an impregnable position in the world. And this is the political and economic environment for solving the South China Sea issue properly.
Prof. Ouyang Kang, the director of the National University Student Cultural Quality Education Base of HUST, hosted the lecture and summarized the points. He said that there were three changes that affected the South China Sea issue, and they were the change of the global pattern, the change of the importance of ocean in economic development and the change of China. He said if China could handle these changes, China could not only realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation but also play a greater role on the world stage.