International Symposium on MALAYSIA-CHINA STRATEGIC DIALOGUE ON THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
Date April 11, 2019 Time 8.30 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. Venue ICS Seminar Room, Institute of Graduate Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur Language English
The South China Sea has remained the most contentious issue in the relations between China and Southeast Asian claimant countries. This issue also affects peace and stability in Southeast Asia, and is also increasingly becoming part of US-China conflict. Recent developments include China’s building-up of its occupied features that include both civilian and military facilities, increased involvement of the United States and other powers such as Japan, UK, France, especially in terms of Freedom of Navigation Operations, the Philippines vs China arbitration case that disfavored China, progress in the negotiation of the Code of Conduct (CoC) despite significant obstacles, improvement in Philippines-China relations over the dispute, and so forth. All these developments signify that the South China Sea remains one of the most sensitive and intractable geopolitical issues in the region. Malaysia and China have overlapping claims in the South China Sea. Since 2013, there has been increased presence of Chinese vessels in waters Malaysia considers its Exclusive Economic Zone but within part of China’s nine-dash line. Although both countries have maintained and pursued positive bilateral relations, especially in the economic sphere, the South China Sea issue will significantly impact the mutual trust of both countries if not handled well. With the election of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad as the Prime Minister of Malaysia again in May 2018, perhaps there is a new opportunity of fostering a sustainable and peaceful order in the South China Sea that is acceptable to all stakeholders. Mahathir’s views have been articulated as the Mahathir Doctrine. Is this Doctrine workable? Can it be the basis of a sustainable order? How does this relate to the Code of Conduct? How Malaysia and China, together with other ASEAN countries, can work to reduce tensions in the South China Sea? What are some possible areas of cooperation? These are some questions that this Symposium attempt to discuss.