China and the US are ‘in the same boat’: Stephen Orlins
Published: Nov 10, 2023 08:30 AM
President of National committee on US-China Relations Stephen Orlins. Photo:Screenshot

President of National committee on US-China Relations Stephen Orlins. Photo:Screenshot

Despite years of turbulence and tension, China-US relations are now starting to stabilize and improve, said Stephen Orlins, President of National committee on US-China Relations in a video speech at the Symposium on Global Maritime Cooperation and Ocean Governance 2023 on November 8. "I hope president Biden and Xi will meet next week in San Francisco," he stressed.

More than 300 experts and scholars, former political leaders, and representatives of international organizations and maritime departments from over 30 countries and regions attended this event held in Sanya, Hainan. Representatives of the forum conducted in-depth discussions on topics including the challenges to global ocean governance and maritime cooperation among great powers, mutual confidence building in the South China Sea, among others.

Orlins emphasized the need for a global response to counter rising security threats at sea, and to enhance sustainable, long-term maritime development. 

An exemplary case is Track II dialogue on maritime issues and international law held by the National Committee on United States-China Relations and National Institute for South China Sea Studies. Since its founding in October 2012, it has helped convene American and Chinese experts to explore the issues surrounding recent maritime disputes involving China and escalated tensions. As stressed by Orlins, it is important that we get together to explore both the challenges and the opportunities in global maritime cooperation.

Last week, the first round of consultations on maritime affairs between China and the US was held in Beijing. The two sides had a candid, in-depth and constructive exchange of views on issues including maritime situations, maritime security and maritime environment. The Chinese side expounded on China's policy position on maritime issues, expressed grave concerns over the US' increased military presence in the region and urged the US to earnestly respect China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. Meanwhile, the US statement said the talks were part of "efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the US-China relationship" and that the US side reiterated the need to resume military-military channels, so as to avoid miscommunication and miscalculation.

Orlins also applauded these efforts and added that these visits, along with the hope for a meeting in San Francisco, signal "at least a reestablishment of communications and high-level engagement that allows us to manage differences and reduce misunderstanding and risks caused by such misunderstandings."

Noticeably, these consultations are ahead of an expected meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the upcoming APEC Leaders' Meeting in mid November.

"Ultimately, our two countries' presidents must engage in regular dialogue. At this critical juncture in history, the world needs clear cooperative solutions to these pressing challenges. We are all in the same boat. If we join hands and work together, we must overcome these global and maritime challenges," Orlins concluded in his speech.