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Innovation 'essential for maritime collaboration'

Updated: 2014-08-28 07:00
By Wang Qian in Xiamen, Fujian (China Daily)

A new wave of international cooperation, with an emphasis on innovation and boosting the blue economy to better utilize resources, is the focus of maritime authorities, a leading specialist said.

"The importance of marine technology innovation and the marine economy has increased significantly, given the growing contribution of the sectors to domestic and regional development and the economy," Zhang Haiwen, director general of the International Cooperation Department of the State Oceanic Administration, told China Daily ahead of the fourth APEC Ocean-Related Ministerial Meeting.

She called for APEC economies to strengthen cooperation in these sectors, which have the potential to open up new avenues of growth and employment, and show how natural resources can be used in an efficient and environmentally friendly way.

Other topics, aside from conserving marine ecosystems and looking at the role of the oceans in terms of food security, are scheduled to be discussed at the meeting on Thursday. They include enhancing innovation and boosting the maritime economy.

The blue economy covers offshore oil and gas, sustainable clean energy from wind and tide, port logistics and transportation, tourism, biotechnology and other cooperation.

Liu Zhenghua, a researcher from the Third Institution of Oceanography under the State Oceanic Administration, said sustainable growth from marine sectors will boost development as the global economy needs new growth engines as it recovers from the 2008 financial crisis.

Many countries, including Australia, the United States and South Korea, have released marine economy policies.

"As the world focuses on the maritime sector, China cannot afford to be left behind," said Li Jingyu, a professor at the Institution of Marine Development at Liaoning Normal University, adding that international cooperation will help China on its path to becoming a maritime power.

Liu Shuguang, a professor at the Ocean University of China, agreed that as resources on land are gradually depleted, China must look to the seas.

China proposed building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt with ASEAN countries last year, in a move to strengthen economic cooperation and trade with countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.

The sea has played an increasingly important role in China's economic development as marine industries contributed 5.4 trillion yuan ($876 billion) to the economy in 2013, accounting for 9.5 percent of the country's total annual GDP last year, according to the State Oceanic Administration.

This is projected to grow to approximately 10 trillion yuan by 2020 with the expansion of current industries and development of new opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, according to the China's Ocean Economic Development Report released by the China Institute for Marine Affairs last year.

Guan Huashi, a marine biomedicine expert, said in an earlier interview that unlike other sectors, marine industries are more reliant on technological development.

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