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Chaiwat Meesanthan: Cooperation in jointly developing blue economy between China and ASEAN benefits the people from both sides




Editor's Note: Chaiwat Meesanthan, Director of Institute of East Asian Studies, Thammasat University. Obtained a doctoral degree from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Malaya. Research focus is on Southeast Asian studies, with particular emphasis on Southeast Asia (language, social culture, economy, and politics) as well as Muslim society and ethnography in Thailand.

 

The word “Blue Economy” is quite new for me, and I think it is quite new for international society as well. From my understanding, blue economy refers to the range of economic uses of ocean and coastal resources such as energy, shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, mining, and tourism. It also includes economic benefits that may not be marketed, such as carbon storage, coastal protection, cultural values and biodiversity. That means we can create a lot of mutual benefits from this word.


For Thailand, this word is also quite new. But I believe that Thailand has many activities which can be joined blue economy. The ocean economy constitutes almost one-third of Thailand’s GDP, and our 23 coastal provinces support the livelihoods of a quarter of the country’s population. Manufacturing sector is the largest contributor with a share of 50%. The country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers about 420,280 kilometers. Marine and costal resources is estimated to be 36 billion USD. This means that Thailand still has enormous resources.


How can China and ASEAN can cooperate to develop blue economy, From my point of view, I’m an educator and work in the university and educational system more than ten years. A very important tool which can strengthen the cooperation between China and Thailand is “Education”. Of course, we are the developing country and also a small country. There are still many things we have not yet mastered and need China’s successful experience. What I know is China is the country which has universities that specialize in maritime affairs much more than any other countries in the world, such as Ocean University of China, the top university specialized in marine affairs, Shanghai Ocean University, Guangdong Ocean University, Zhejiang Ocean University, Dalian Ocean University etc. While there are few maritime affairs courses in Thailand, most of them focus on marine science. Therefore, I think this should be an opportunity for China and Thailand to build close cooperation. And cooperation in the form of education will be the starting point for mutual sustainable development of the two countries.


Another thing is cooperation to develop marine activities in various fields such as tourism, joint development of fisheries and livestock, joint study and preservation of marine resources, conservation of rare species of aquatic animals, etc. With China’s vast experience and maritime resources, I believe that if China shares these things with ASEAN member states, it will break many of the barriers we currently have between us.


And I believe that from cooperation in jointly developing the maritime economy or blue economy, it will lead to closer relations between China and ASEAN. And the greatest beneficiaries are our people.


(The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of China-ASEAN Observation. If you have a specific expertise, or would like to share your thought, please send us your writings at CAobservation@outlook.com)

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