The 19th Western Pacific Naval Symposium opened in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province, on Monday.

The event has drawn approximately 150 high-level naval delegations from nearly 30 countries around the Pacific Rim.

During the symposium, Zhang Youxia, Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, delivered a keynote address, emphasising the need for unity and cooperation to uphold global maritime security and development.

“The global maritime governance is facing many new opportunities and challenges. We need to unite and cooperate to jointly safeguard maritime security and development,” said Zhang.

Zhang called on all sides to abandon the Cold War mentality and promote peaceful development. He said the PLA Navy has been actively providing public security services by conducting escort missions and offering disaster relief.

Taniela Tuita, Commander of the Tonga Royal Navy, expressed his gratitude to the PLA Navy for their support and assistance following the volcanic eruption and tsunami that struck Tonga in 2022.

“I feel overwhelmingly happy to express my sincere thanks to the PLA Navy for your friendship, and all the kind assistance to Tonga after the volcanic eruption and Tsunami that occurred in Tonga in 2022,” said Taniela Tuita, Commander of Tonga Royal Navy.

A notable absence was the Philippines delegation. In response to inquiries about their absence, a Chinese official noted that invitations had been extended to all member and observer states.

Participants voiced a common belief that disputes and confrontations should be approached through dialogue and consultation.

Angus Topshee, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, highlighted the importance of face-to-face discussions in understanding different perspectives and resolving disagreements.

“I think every time we get a chance together to talk, we can better understand each other’s perspectives, find the areas of disagreement and openly and transparently talk through them. And then hopefully, we can come to an agreement,2 said Angus Topshee, Commander of Royal Canadian Navy.

This marks the first time in ten years that China has hosted the Western Pacific Naval Symposium. The agenda includes discussions on a variety of topics, such as unplanned encounters at sea and the use of unmanned systems, underscoring the need to address both traditional and non-traditional security threats.