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Aug 28, 2016 - China Foreign Affairs University Conference onboard Peace Boat - the Maritime Silk Road
Conference participants pose in front of the Ocean Dream, Peace Boat's chartered vessel
As the Ocean Dream sailed across the East China Sea, a conference was held onboard the ship as part of a collaboration between Peace Boat and the China Foreign Affairs University, Beijing.

Between August 1-7, 2016 as the ship travelled Shanghai - Okinawa - Nagasaki - Fukuoka, around 25 think-tank and academic scholars, former diplomats and experts from throughout Asia boarded the ship to participate in the international conference, "21st Century Maritime Silk Road: Development Connectivity and Win-Win Cooperation."

Discussion at sea
During the programme, participants considered the Chinese-government initiated "Maritime Silk Road," which attempts to connect the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa through the ocean.

The platform of an open space for discussion at sea allowed participants to explore the linkage between the seas on the basis of common interests of different countries, exchange ideas and policies with the spirit of maritime peace and cooperation, and promote trust building and government-academia-business communication.

Public forum for Peace Boat passengers
As well as China and Japan, conference participants came from twenty countries throughout the Asian region. Onboard the ship, they participated in a closed-door dialogue regarding strategic and policy connectivity, positions and functions of various countries in the region, and the impact of recent policy developments in the region.

A public forum was also held for voyage passengers, which featured presentations by former Ambassadors participating in the meeting from Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam, as well as Conference organizer Professor Su Hao, Director of the Center for Strategic and Peace Studies at the China Foreign Affairs University.

Academic event at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies
A series of field visits and academic events were held in the ports of call visited during the conference. Prior to embarkation to Peace Boat, an experts' forum on maritime peace and cooperation was held at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies on August 1, 2016.

As the ship docked at the port of Naha on August 3, participants joined field visits to explore connections between Okinawa and China and other parts of the region through the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom by visiting Shuri Castle, the tragic history of war in the islands through the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum and the Himeyuri Peace Museum. They also had a chance to discuss the contemporary impacts of the heavy US military presence in Okinawa and current political and social aspects of the islands through a local Okinawa Peace Guide who accompanied the group throughout the day.

Conference representative Professor Su Hao (right) with Nagasaki University Vice President Matsusaka Nobuo (left)
In Nagasaki, the final port of call, conference participants visited Nagasaki University where they were graciously greeted by Mr Matsusaka Nobuo, Vice President of the university. This was followed by presentations of some of the research and academic programmes conducted by the university, particularly in relation to its unique nature as an academic institute with a rich history as a medical training school ,having experienced the atomic bombing of 1945 - the anniversary of which took place just two days after the visit - and in the port city which remained open to exchange and trade with other Asian countries even as the rest of Japan was closed. The visit overall was coordinated by the Nagasaki University Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, RECNA.

At the 10-metre tall statue in Nagasaki's Peace Park
In addition to the academic forum, participants also learned first-hand about the history of the atomic bombing through a visit to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park, as well as the Oka Masaharu Memorial Museum, a private citizens' museum which examines the past and present related to Japan's war-time acts of aggression including forced labour, the gcomfort womenh and the Nanjing Massacre - a reminder of the crucial need for initiatives for peace and cooperation in the Asian region.

Experts, researchers, diplomats and practioners gathered for this conference
This conference was hosted by Peace Boat, organized by the Department of Diplomacy and Center for Strategic and Peace Studies at the China Foreign Affairs University, and co-coordinated by the Enterprise Committee of Foundation for International Studies and Beijing Geopolitical Strategy Research and Development Association.

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