China is forging durable partnerships with APEC economies amid a rising tide of maritime international cooperation set for 2015, a senior official said.
Liu Cigui, head of the State Oceanic Administration, told China Daily that "as coastal and offshore biosystems face increasing challenges brought about by climate change, enhancing cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region is a long-term and important undertaking."
Liu, who also leads the Chinese delegation to the fourth APEC Ocean-Related Ministerial Meeting, made the remarks before the meeting is held in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Thursday.
The meeting encourages representatives from APEC members and working groups to share opinions and suggestions on topics involving maritime environmental protection, disaster prevention and reduction, food security and technology innovation as well as the marine economy.
"By holding the meeting, China hopes to deepen cooperation to build marine research organisations, boost the regional marine economy and prompt technology innovation with APEC members, to develop the ocean resources in a peaceful and cooperative manner," Liu said.
In June 2012 the central government launched the framework plan (2011-15) for international collaboration of the South China Sea and its adjacent waters.
"Under the framework, China would like to support marine cooperation programs with marine authorities and institutions in the South China Sea region and sponsor foreign marine experts and scholars to study in China," Liu said.
So far, 35 foreign scholars and researchers have received Chinese Government Marine Scholarships, according to the State Oceanic Administration.
Liu Yan, a researcher at the China Institute for Marine Affairs, said China is on its way to becoming a strong maritime country, and is initiating broader marine cooperation.
"This type of cooperation is win-win," Liu Yan added.
President Xi Jinping emphasised last year in a study session with the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee that the country's prosperity will be increasingly linked to the seas.
Strengthening maritime cooperation and joint development is a key part of Premier Li Keqiang's agenda on his overseas travels.
Zhang Tuosheng, a researcher at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, said that international cooperation is a key ingredient to establishing a major maritime presence.
Liu, the oceanic administration head, said that as China and Greece agreed to name 2015 the "China-Greece Ocean Year", China will take the opportunity to deepen and expand cooperation with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members.
"China will fully consider the concerns and interests of APEC economies and launch a series of bilateral and multilateral marine collaboration programs on biosystems and environmental protection," Liu Cigui said.
This will include the continued involvement of China and the United States in the Indian Ocean Southern Climate Observation, Reanalysis and Prediction Program next year, according to the State Oceanic Administration.
He said cooperation with small and medium-sized island countries will also be increased next year.
The State Oceanic Administration will consistently prompt marine cooperation with APEC economies, he added.