Enhancing communications on China's sovereignty over the South China Sea

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1002/pa.1660
Published date01 November 2017
Date01 November 2017
COMMENTARY
Enhancing communications on China's sovereignty over the
South China Sea
He Hui
1,2
1
School of International Journalism and Communication, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Beijing, China
2
Institute of History, Philology and Strategic Communication, Beijing, China
Correspondence
Professor at School of International Journalism and Communication, Beijing Foreign Studies University Director of Institute of History, Philology and Strategic
Communication.
Email: heeeheee@263.net
South China Sea Arbitration has made the situation in the South China
Sea more complicated. It comes as a great challenge to utter the voice
of China in the international arena, to emphasize China's position and
proposition on the South China Sea, and to defend China's sovereignty
over the South China Sea.
China's recent efforts in international communication for South
China Sea Arbitration have achieved some good results: China has spo-
ken up for its sovereignty over the South China Sea, and the interna-
tional communication has made great contribution to the protection
of sovereignty. Some typical communication activities included pro-
moting two video seriesUnderstanding China: The South China Sea
and The South China Sea: The Past and the Presentthrough multiple
channels both home and abroad and holding academic symposiums
in Europe and the United States.
So far, the farce of the Arbitration has come to an end. The
Philippines and Vietnam, etc., however, will continue to scramble for
the rights and benefits concerning the South China Sea, and the United
States will continue to intervene in the region on the basis of
rebalancingpolicy. Protecting our sovereignty over the South China
Sea remains a daunting task, and thus, we must enhance our commu-
nication on this issue. It is necessary for China to pay attention to
the following points.
First, we need to raise the awareness that the communication on
this issue is of longterm strategic importance for us. China holds indis-
putable sovereignty over South China Sea Islands and its surrounding
waters. Due to its unique location, the South China Sea is regarded
as a significant artery of maritime trade and transport. It also has abun-
dant fishing resources, and its oil and gas on the seabed and subsoil
enjoy great potential for exploitation. Therefore, the South China Sea
has strategic and economic significance for China's future develop-
ment. Attracted by this great strategic and economic value, the
Philippines and Vietnam, colluding with the United States and Japan,
attempted to distort history and facts, which will result in misunder-
standings in the international arena. If we assume that we need not
to argue or debate, as we hold indisputable sovereignty, or that we
need not to keep arguing after the arbitration, we will make a strategic
mistake. Since peoples from many countries still know little about the
history of the South China Sea and have no idea about the sovereignty
over the South China Sea, if we seldom argue for ourselves, there will
be larger room for the misleading communications of countries
coveting South China Sea rights and benefits. So it is imperative for
us to raise the awareness that the communication on this issue is of
longterm strategic importance.
Second, the international communication on the South China Sea
should be led and planned by the state, referring to the recommenda-
tion of think tanks. China has confidence on the sovereignty entitle-
ment of South China Sea, in that domestic and foreign historical
records and academic studies can provide evidence for and support
communication and publicity on China's sovereignty over South China
Sea. Yet, communication activities, both intensive ones and regular
ones, still need sophisticated planning on specific purposes, target
groups, methods, and channels. Under the guidance of holistic strate-
gic planning, opinions, and suggestions of diplomatic, military, and cul-
tural experts are of extraordinary importance. For example, we can
observe the opinions of wellknown think tanks to discover appeal
points or some dissents and work out some preemptive countermea-
sures. With the support of the public, the academia and think tanks,
the will of the state will be firmly implemented in the communication
on China's sovereignty over the South China Sea.
Third, multiple methods can be integrated in the communication,
including news coverage, advertisement, public relations, peopleto
people communication, publication, and TV programs (documentaries
and TV series). The key to strategic communication lies in the effective
integration of different methods and forms. Generally speaking, in
time news can cover official significant policies, guidelines, statements,
and actions. Intensive advertisement campaigns can deal with targeted
appeals against specific groups. Public relations can exert subtle influ-
ences on stakeholders. Those methods, if used together, will achieve
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1660
J Public Affairs. 2017;17:e1660.
https://doi.org/10.1002/pa.1660
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/pa 1of2

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