The new Maritime Silk Road project could be a win-win opportunity for the countries involved to promote maritime economic cooperation, interconnection and public services, an official with China's oceanic authority said.
Zhang Zhanhai, a director with the Department of Strategic Planning and Economy with the State Oceanic Administration, said the Maritime Silk Road would promote economic partnership for the countries involved and facilitate the establishment of bilateral and multilateral maritime economic zones.
The Maritime Silk Road project, a transcontinental connectivity blueprint, was first proposed by President Xi Jinping during a speech to the Indonesian parliament in October 2013, as part of an effort to strengthen maritime cooperation with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The project was also promoted by Xi during his visits to other South Asian countries, including the Maldives and Sri Lanka, in September.
Zhang made the comments during the 2014 China International Ocean Summit Forum in Qingdao on Wednesday.
The countries along the Silk Road should enhance their maritime logistics, create new tourist routes and crack down on pirates to improve the interconnection among countries, he said.
Meanwhile, developing common public services, including maritime search and rescue, disaster relief and prevention, and coping with climate change are other areas that countries along the Silk Road can cooperate on, he added.
Zhang also proposed that the countries involved further enhance their maritime cultural cooperation, including the nurturing of maritime talent and maritime archaeology, and establish new mechanisms of cooperation and communication between countries and enterprises.
Yu Zhirong, a researcher with the China Maritime Development Research Center, said the building of a new Maritime Silk Road could help solve the threat of pirates and terrorist attacks and ensure the safety of sea transportation routes, which are vital to China's energy security.
Han Xingyong, a maritime economics professor with Shanghai Ocean University, said the building of the new Maritime Silk Road should emphasize the promotion of Chinese culture.
"The new Silk Road should not only focus on economic cooperation and trade, but also on the promotion of Chinese business culture," he said at the forum.
Borrowing experience from the ancient Maritime Silk Road, Han said the new blueprint should promote not only trade but also cultural exchanges.
The historical Maritime Silk Road, a commercial route through which China sold its silk and other commodities to countries in South East Asia, South Asia, Africa and even Europe, is believed to date back to the Han dynasties (206 BC-AD 220).