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Social sciences inform maritime governance

| 2013-03-18 | Hits:
 Volunteers picking up marine litterThe Report of the 18th National Congress of the CPC clearly stated that China should enhance its capacity for exploiting marine resources, develop its maritime economy, protect the ocean’s ecology and environment, resolutely safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests, and build China into a maritime power. This strategy reflects the interest that has turned to marine resources in recent years as a result of globalization. With the complexity of perpetual changes to its surrounding waters, China’s maritime sovereignty and potential presence as a maritime civilization have drawn substantial attention from spectators in both the social sciences and the humanities. Maritime culture research underdeveloped  China is a large country with substantial land and considerable oceanic boundaries. Over the course of a long history of maritime activities, Chinese people created a unique ocean culture. However, for thousands of years the primary focus of Chinese traditional culture has been the mainland’s agricultural civilization. Professor Wu Chunming from the history department at the School of the Humanities at Xiamen University noted that the coexistence of maritime culture and land-based culture is, undoubtedly, the fundamental cultural connection in ancient and modern China. However, cultural legitimacy was set up on the basis of agrarian culture in ancient China. Though in recent years there have been significant undertakings to determine the origins of Chinese civilization in historiography and archaeology, creating many threads of discussion and research, this topic has still largely confined itself to addressing the diverse cultures among the various regions of China at the advent and during the development of agriculture. History has repeatedly declared, “To the ocean to bring about the prosperity, and return to the ocean in the wake of failure.” Issues connected with national survival and development, such as safeguarding maritime sovereignty and securing marine resources, cannot be ignored. Jin Canrong, vice dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, said that in terms of military strength, possessing a strong navy is an indication of a country’s military superiority, as naval power is necessary for the projection of large forces and logistical support over great distances and to other continents. Jin also pointed out that, from the perspective of national security, maritime security is integral to national survival and development. Noting the prominent role played by navies in modern history, Jin added that maritime superiority helps a nation establish a certain international status, and that securing full access to the maritime economy has been a significant prerequisite for taking advantage in international economic competition. As human beings’ “second living space,” which can be accessed exploited and utilized, the ocean and marines resource are irreplaceable for a nation’s economy and sustainable development. What we know about and currently use from the ocean is only a small part of it. Thus, we need to deepen our understanding toward the seas and geopolitical situation therein. Maritime security garners more academic attention Maritime culture has not been a prominent topic in Chinese academic circle. However, since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, there has been no lack of social science scholars in the older generation researching the ocean. As early as 1956, Xiamen University established the Research Institute of Nanyang, which was the first research institute in China specifically focused on international maritime issues. Many scholars have expressed that in recent years, frequent disputes or incidents in China’s surrounding waters have made ocean security issues become prominent. People’s awareness of marine resources and maritime security has improved tremendously, sparking strong interests in research among social scientists and humanists. At present, there are many colleges and universities which are famous for their maritime programs and departments, such as Ocean University of China, Guangdong Ocean University, Shanghai Ocean University, Zhejiang Ocean University and Dalian Maritime University. Additionally, related organizations affiliated to Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences and State Oceanic Administration perform related maritime research as well. Other universities, such as Sun Yat-Sen University, Ji’nan University, Xiamen University, Fudan University, Zhejiang University, Ningbo University and Fujian Normal University, also have unique programs that pertain to maritime and marine topics. For the past few years there has been a building momentum for the development of different disciplines within the social science to address maritime and marine issues, such as maritime economics, maritime law, maritime sociology, maritime history, and marine archaeology. A number of universities and research institutes set up a series of maritime culture research institutes and build them up as unique disciplines. On December 7th, the Publicity and Education Center of the State Oceanic Administration and Zhejiang Ocean University held the signing ceremony for establishing the East China Sea Development Institute and Ocean Culture Research Center of China. On December 8th, National Territorial Sovereignty and Maritime Rights Collaborative Innovation Center was inaugurated in Beijing. This burgeoning of institutions to study maritime culture shows social sciences scholars’ passion for maritime research and their contributions to maritime governance.                   The Chinese version appeared in Chinese Social Sciences Today, No. 392, Dec.14, 2012                                        (Translated by Zhang Mengying ) Chinese link:http://www.csstoday.net/Item/37276.aspx