GIGA Forum

Maritime Politics in the "Indo-Pacific": What Future for the Rules-Based Order?




06:00 p.m. (UTC)


07:30 p.m. (UTC)

Military ships in the Pacific Ocean
© Reuters / Courtesy Aaron B. Hicks / U.S. Navy

  • Recent years have seen rising powers such as China and India expanding their influence in the Indian and Pacific oceans. An arbitration tribunal’s verdict against Chinese claims and related confrontations with the U.S. Navy over the "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea have highlighted China’s embroilment in maritime disputes. These cases, in particular, are taken as evidence for how China and others are trying to redefine international norms as they are codified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. "Indo-Pacific" maritime politics has therefore come to attract attention far beyond the region, including from the Group of Seven (G-7) leaders and European decision-makers.

    This GIGA Forum seeks to clarify the nature of the much-debated rules-based order and how it may, in part or as a whole, be challenged, changing, or transforming. Dr. Wirth will first provide an overview of the main issues related to territorial disputes and so-called sea-lane security that preoccupy policymakers in the "Indo-Pacific." Next, Professor Liu will elaborate on the economic structure of maritime transport. She will address questions such as: What kind of ships move from where to where, carrying what kinds of goods on whose behalf and benefit? And what are the major trends affecting this structure in the foreseeable future? Subsequently, Valentin Schatz will outline the main legal principles and norms that constitute the order set up by the international law of the sea, and point to some major contestations over key norms, including how these contestations have reflected and driven ocean governance since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982. Next, Nils Haupt will explain how commercial users perceive the above political and legal debates, and elaborate on their own concerns in the context of the current economic and political environment in East Asia, South Asia, and Europe.

    Panel: Nils Haupt, Senior Director Corporate Communications, Hapag Lloyd AG

    Prof. Dr. Qing Liu, Junior Professor and Director, Maritime Economics Research Center, University of Hamburg

    Valentin Schatz, Research Associate at the Chair of International Law of the Sea and International Environmental Law, Public International Law and Public Law, University of Hamburg

    Dr. Christian Wirth, Research Fellow, GIGA Institute for Asian Studies

    Moderator: Bernhard Bartsch, Senior Expert, Bertelsmann Foundation, Germany and Asia Programme


    GIGA Hamburg, Hamburg




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