Historic First

As part of the National Committee’s mission to promote high-level exchange and constructive dialogue on sensitive topics, the Committee and the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NISCSS) co-sponsor a bi-annual U.S.-China Track II Dialogue on Maritime Issues & International Law -- the first such ongoing dialogue of its kind. Established in October 2012, the purpose of this dialogue is to convene American and Chinese legal experts to explore the issues surrounding China’s recent maritime disputes and escalated tensions in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea in order to better understand their impact on China’s relationships with its neighbors and U.S.-China relations, while at the same time provide suggestions for improving the management and settlement of current maritime disputes.

2018 U.S.-China Track II Dialogue on Maritime Issues & International Law (United States)

July 25, 2018 to July 27, 2018

The second iteration of our maritime Track II dialogue in 2018 was held in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The American and Chinese delegations, composed of naval, legal, and geopolitical experts, were again led by Stephen Orlins, the National Committee’s president, and by Dr. Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NISCSS), respectively. The delegations met for two days and actively participated in candid and constructive discussions on legal, political, and military aspects of the maritime disputes and activity in the South and East China Seas. The discussion’s focal points included: the present status and role of international law in dispute resolution; the geopolitics of the South China Sea; territorial sovereignty and possibilities for joint development; opportunities for cooperation in area-based management and marine protection; freedom of navigation; the development and legal status of new maritime technology; as well as, security issues in both the East and South China Seas. The group continued its discussion of what processes might be undertaken to improve the situation in the South China Sea, to avoid crises, and to lead toward resolution of disputes and a mutually acceptable outcome.

Both sides felt the dialogue was productive in advancing mutual understandings of the issues regarding maritime disputes, the U.S.-China relationship, and regional relations of current importance to both China and the United States. More importantly, our participants again are in the process of drafting a list of ideas for managing tensions in this complex relationship that will be recommended to decision-makers on both sides.

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