NEWPORT, R.I. – Five Naval War College (NWC) faculty members recently attended a conference at Peking University in Beijing on the subject of maritime cooperation.
The event, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and held March 11-12, was entitled a “Dialogue on Maritime Strategy.” Chinese attendees included several Peking University faculty members, PLA Navy officers including the well known Beijing Naval Research Center author Capt. Li Jie and Rear Adm. Yang Yi, and scholars from various Chinese think tanks.
The NWC faculty team included Professor Barney Rubel
, Dean of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies; Dr. John Garofano
, Dean of Academic Affairs; Dr. Lyle Goldstein, Director of the China Maritime Studies Institute
(CMSI); Dr. Jonathan Pollack, Professor of Strategic Studies; and Dr. John Hattendorf, the Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History, and Chairman, Maritime History Department.
"Interchanges such as this among academic institutions from both countries are critical to keeping a productive dialogue going even as relations between the two countries experience ups and downs,” said Dean Rubel. “It is especially significant that at this time of strain in US-China relations, faculty from Peking University and the U.S. Naval War College were able to get together and hold frank and collegial discussions."
NWC faculty gave five presentations during the conference. A delegation of three U.S. Navy officers from the Defense Attaché office of the U.S. Embassy Beijing also attended.
“It is important to explore differences of opinion in order to discover whether there are areas in which real cooperation is feasible,” said Dean Garofano. “Given China’s slowly but surely expanding maritime capabilities, this is an important area of study.”
Participants discussed varying viewpoints on the PLA Navy’s counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden, China and aircraft carriers, “logistics support sites,” the March 2009 Impeccable incident, and potential cooperation in the maritime environment.
"China and the U.S. confront certain difficult issues in the relationship, for example, related to currency reform and trade,” said Professor Goldstein. “However, it should not be forgotten that there are very significant areas of overlap in our respective core interests, for example with respect to the safety and security of major sea lanes.”
The consensus among the participants was that such discussions may be helpful and that future dialogues should focus on the practical realities of U.S. and China interaction in the maritime environment.
“This dialogue allowed us to exchange views with Chinese academics about these areas of common interest to explore what areas of cooperation might be increased in the future in order to strengthen the overall bilateral relationship," said Goldstein.
While in China, NWC’s faculty team also conducted meetings with maritime experts at several universities in Shanghai.
Part of the Naval War College mission is to strengthen maritime security cooperation, and engagement trips such as this to China promote an open exchange of professional and academic views.