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Introduction to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road

  • Chongwei ZhengEmail author
  • Ziniu Xiao
  • Wen Zhou
  • Xiaobin Chen
  • Xuan Chen
Chapter
Part of the Springer Oceanography book series (SPRINGEROCEAN)

Abstract

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (shortened to “Maritime Silk Road” hereafter) initiative represents China’s consistent theme of peace and development. It is conducive to achieve common prosperity and progress of human society. However, challenges and opportunities often coexist. The Maritime Silk Road links the South China Sea and the northern Indian Ocean, involving a large number of countries, a wide range, and long distances. The challenging natural environment, scarcity of electricity and freshwater resources, different political and cultural bases, etc. greatly increase the difficulty of constructing the Maritime Silk Road. Obviously, an understanding the characteristics of the marine environment, energy, legal counsel and so on is a prerequisite for the safe and efficient construction of the Maritime Silk Road. However, relatively weak basic research and scarce marine data seriously restrict the full implementation of the Maritime Silk Road initiative and urgently need to be addressed. This chapter discusses the significance and challenges of the Maritime Silk Road initiative and provides corresponding countermeasures.

1.1 Maritime Silk Road, Great Peaceful Road

In October 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (shortened to “Maritime Silk Road” hereafter) initiative (Fig. 1.1) (China Radio International 2011). At that time, the Belt and Road initiative was officially put forward. In May 2014, in his keynote address at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), President Xi Jinping said that China will work with other countries to accelerate the construction of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” as soon as possible, to start the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to more deeply participate in the regional cooperation process, and to propel Asian development and security to achieve complementarity (Xinhua net 2014).
Fig. 1.1

Topography and water depth of the Maritime Silk Road

With a mainland coastline of about 18,000 km and more than 3 million km2 of ocean territory, China is undoubtedly a large marine country. In ancient times, the marine economy was an important part of China’s overall economy; the ancient Maritime Silk Road was also an important component of China’s economic development. During the flourishing periods of China’s Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties, the starting points of the Maritime Silk Road were composed primarily of Quanzhou, Guangzhou, Ningbo, and other feeder ports (People’s network 2015a). As early as the Qin and Han dynasties of China, the Maritime Silk Road existed in an embryonic form. In the middle and late Tang Dynasty, the Silk Road on land was blocked by the war, which caused northern people to move south. As a result, the economic center was moved south (Zhang 2008). At this point, the Maritime Silk Road replaced the Silk Road on land as the main channel of trade between the Song Dynasty and abroad. Due to breakthroughs in maritime technology, as well as unprecedented economic and trade demand, the Maritime Silk Road reached its peak. During Zheng He’s voyages in the Ming Dynasty, China’s great voyage era also reached its peak. Since then, because maritime economic contributions to the dynasty were not great, pirates and other factors such as the ban on maritime trade, which made China lose opportunities for economic development and participation in the world economy, as well as technological changes, caused the ancient Maritime Silk Road to suffer a change from prosperity to decline. It is not hard to see that the Maritime Silk Road has been a peaceful road since ancient times.

The Maritime Silk Road initiative is a powerful means to create a cooperative, peaceful, and harmonious environment for foreign cooperation, which has created a good opportunity and external environment for China’s comprehensive deepening reform (CRI Online 2015). This is a new starting point based on history and focusing on the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the strategic partnership between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. To further deepen the cooperation between China and ASEAN and to build a community with a common destiny, a strategic concept for the well-being of the people of the region was put forward (Southcn.com 2014), that is, to tighten mutual interests and strengthen sea lane interconnection. To promote the common prosperity and progress of human society in shipping, marine energy, economy and trade, scientific and technological innovation, the ecological environment, and human communication, there is a need to promote policy communication, road connection, trade flowing, currency circulation and folk mind connection (Qiushi net 2014).

The ocean is a natural link for economic and cultural exchange between countries, and the Maritime Silk Road is the new trade road connecting China with the world under changing global politics and trade patterns. The partners of the Maritime Silk Road include not only the ASEAN countries; other countries and regions interested in the Maritime Silk Road can also be included, which could enhance contacts with border countries and regions; connect the ASEAN countries, South Asia, West Asia, North Africa, and Europe, wherein the market chain comprises major economic sectors; and propel strategic cooperation in the South China Sea, Pacific Ocean, and Indian Ocean economic zones in the economic and trade integration of Asia, Europe, and Africa for the development of long-term goals for the benefit of mankind (People’s network 2015b).

1.2 Mutual Benefit, Win-Win Results

Currently, the national economy is entering a new normal in which downward pressure still exists. How to solve the problem of employment and people’s livelihoods is still the focus. On one hand, the Belt and Road initiative can implement funding for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which transfers eastern surplus capital and industry to Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and African countries and enhances the economic development of countries and regions along the route. On the other hand, through trade to exchange resources, it can further deepen the relationship between China and these other countries and regions. The Belt and Road initiative will create a community with a common destiny, improve the quality of life of residents living along the Belt and Road, and thus enhance the stability and prosperity of the countries and regions along the route.

The Maritime Silk Road includes primarily the South China Sea, the northern Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The South China Sea is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean and is a primary channel of commercial shipping and oil transport. According to statistics, more than half of the world’s supertankers are navigable through the South China Sea. More than half of the world’s merchant fleets (in tonnage) pass through the South China Sea each year (Zhang et al. 2014). The Indian Ocean is the link between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean and the bond among Asia, Africa, and Oceania for transport, including oil transport; in includes one-ninth of the world’s harbors and one-fifth of the cargo throughput and includes three major routes for international energy transport (Zhang et al. 2014). Countries around the Indian Ocean are South–South countries that lack funds and have a backward basic infrastructure. According to the Asian Development Bank’s estimates, in the next 8–10 years, Asia’s annual infrastructure funding needs will reach 730 billion US dollars; the World Bank’s estimates are about 800 billion US dollars (Yin 2014). The Asian Development Bank and the World Bank’s two largest financial institutions have each invested a total of 30 billion US dollars in the infrastructure of Asia. Consequently, Asian infrastructure is facing a huge funding gap (Yin 2014). According to a rough calculation by the US economist Richard Freeman, by 2020, China’s GDP may be more than 20 trillion US dollars. Currently, China’s foreign investment accounts for about 5% of GDP. If this proportion increases to a reasonable 10%, China’s foreign investment will reach 2 trillion US dollars (Bao 2014). Surpluses and deficits just achieve complementarity and mutual benefits between China and the countries and regions along the Belt and Road. At the same time, the countries and regions along the Belt and Road are rich in raw materials and low-cost labor, which is highly suitable for China’s surplus production capacity and can help local residents solve employment problems, promote local economic construction, achieve the globalization of capital, and realize the value of assets and investments to achieve common prosperity and progress.

1.3 Challenges and Opportunities Coexist

The Maritime Silk Road connects the South China Sea and the northern Indian Ocean. Since ancient times, the South China Sea has been part of China’s territorial waters, termed “the second Persian Gulf,” and known as the corridor between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is known as the “world sea power center.” Obviously, the Maritime Silk Road is not only a major international energy channel but also a resource repository.

Maritime Silk Road construction is not only for traditional navigation and shipping. Under the background of the increasing energy and environmental crisis, the utilization of marine resources will be a powerful guarantee for the sustainable development of mankind, which will also be a new highlight of the Maritime Silk Road. Reasonable exploitation and utilization of wave energy and offshore wind energy will help alleviate the energy and environmental crisis and improve the quality of life of residents along the Maritime Silk Road.

However, challenges and opportunities often coexist. As a link between the South China Sea and the northern Indian Ocean, the Maritime Silk Road involves several countries, a wide geographical area, and long distances, and it faces the difficulties of the complex marine environment, frequent trade frictions, political and cultural differences, political turmoil, and security conflicts, which greatly increase the difficulty of constructing the Maritime Silk Road. Therefore, the recognition of the ocean is a prerequisite. Construction of the Maritime Silk Road faces the following major difficulties.

1.3.1 Challenging Natural Environment

More than 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by ocean. As ocean data are difficult to obtain and we understand the ocean less than we understand outer space, our understanding of the ocean is far from meeting the needs of marine construction. Our analysis of the marine environment directly determines the success or failure of marine development and construction.

The ocean is replete with frequent disasters. The threats of typhoons, cold air waves, storm surges, and other threats to navigation, marine construction, and even human life have been widely recognized (Xu and Wu 2007; Zheng et al. 2012a, 2013a, 2014a, b, c). In November 1999, the passenger ship Dashun overturned under the impact of a big wave caused by strong cold air on the way from Yantai to Dalian, resulting in more than 200 deaths. In November 1970, a storm surge in the Bay of Bengal resulted in 300,000 deaths. In the actual process of ocean development, temperature, salt, water current, and other elements have a significant impact on marine construction. High-temperature and high-salt environments are highly corrosive and directly affect the life of marine engineering equipment. Oceanic internal waves can produce a huge horizontal thrust, threatening the normal operation and even safety of anchored or semi-submersible offshore platforms (Yuan et al. 2013). Internal waves often result in the loss of underwater robots, the dislocation of engineering vessels, the collision of offshore structures, cable pull-offs, and other major accidents. On April 10, 1963, the Long Tail Shark nuclear submarine suddenly sank 350 km away from Boston Harbor in the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in the death of all 129 people; this accident was caused by strong internal waves. On July 14, 1990, in the Lufeng oilfield located in the South China Sea, an internal wave caused pipeline difficulties in the semi-submersible drilling vessel South China Sea VI and the anchored tanker Ayer Biru (Miao 2011).

Obviously, just by grasping the characteristics of the marine environment, we can safely and efficiently carry out marine development and construction. However, the existing research on marine environment has systematic deficiencies as well as obvious shortages in spatial resolution and systemic. Systematic deficiencies will lead to an inability to query some of the elements of interest when planning ocean development. Spatial resolution deficiencies will lead to ignorance of some key islands and reefs. Therefore, a systematic study of the climatic characteristics of the marine environment of the Maritime Silk Road, with a high spatial resolution, is necessary to provide a reference for the planning of marine development and construction (such as navigation, marine resource development, remote islands and reefs construction, escort, and ocean engineering). Scientific short-term forecasting and long-term prediction of the marine environment are also needed for marine development and construction. In addition, it is also necessary to enhance our real-time monitoring and observation abilities in the marine environment for maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, and so on. In other words, an all-around, three-dimensional effort to understand the characteristics of the marine environment is an important foundation for the security and efficiency of the Maritime Silk Road initiative.

1.3.2 Scarcity of Electricity and Freshwater Resources

Remote islands and reefs are the important support for human beings towards the deep sea, which have a particularly urgent demand for electricity and freshwater resources, and this has seriously restricted marine development and utilization activities in the deep sea for a long time (Zheng et al., 2014d). In the era of high electrification, most equipment cannot function or is even paralyzed without electricity. Human beings cannot survive without freshwater. Electricity on remote islands and reefs usually relies on a diesel generator, and freshwater depends primarily on shipping supplies. Obtaining these supplies is especially challenging under bad sea conditions. All these difficulties have seriously restricted economic development in the deep sea. In addition, the ecosystem of remote islands and reefs is fragile. Diesel power generation may results in significant pollution. Once the ecosystem of remote islands and reefs is damaged, it is difficult to repair.

Taking advantage of wave energy and offshore wind energy resources in these areas could not only solve the electricity dilemma but also protect the environment of these ecologically fragile islands and avoid the destruction caused by diesel power generation (e.g., pollution). After solving the electricity problem, the problem of seawater desalination can also be solved. Then, the viability and sustainable development of remote islands and reefs can be improved significantly. Better development of remote islands and reefs can promote tourism and the development and utilization of the deep sea, thus contributing to the construction of the Maritime Silk Road. In addition, wave power generation has the advantages of good concealment and strong ability to resist natural disasters. Obviously, marine new energy resources have great potential.

1.3.3 Different Political and Cultural Bases

The Maritime Silk Road involves several countries over a wide range, with obvious differences in customs and religious beliefs. The social culture along the Maritime Silk Road is complex, as it covers today’s major religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism) and includes some Indigenous cultures. Cultural differences, especially religious beliefs, have created a precarious situation in the region. In the construction of the Maritime Silk Road, it is necessary to establish a fair and attractive core value concept, which can be widely accepted by the participating countries and regions. And we should also fully respect the habits and customs of all the participating countries and regions. Analyzing the customs, religious beliefs, and other relevant information along the Maritime Silk Road and establishing a standardized database are important. In addition, it is necessary to establish a cultural research group for in-depth exchanges and understanding of contemporary, historical, and marine culture (Wang 2015), to win the public mind and opinion of the countries and regions along the Maritime Silk Road, and to exhibit the amity, sincerity, and inclusiveness of the Chinese nation.

1.3.4 Complex Maritime Rights Disputes

The Maritime Silk Road includes primarily the northern Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. The South China Sea has been part of China’s territorial waters since ancient times. Under the instigation of some outside countries, some countries continue to stir up disputes in the South China Sea (Luo and Yuan 2005; He and An 2010). Some countries maintain a high alert regarding the Maritime Silk Road, greatly increasing the challenges facing the Maritime Silk Road initiative. In recent years, China has carried out reasonable and legitimate construction on islands and reefs in its own territorial waters, which was unlawfully disturbed and deemed unjustified by some countries (Zhao and Gong 2016). This requires us to create favorable publicity in the international community, so that more countries and regions can understand the truth. The promotional material should be concise and clear, but not long-winded. For example, all official maps of the countries of the world agree that the South China Sea belongs to China. However, some countries have been tampering with the truth in recent years. A comparison of the earlier official maps (which agree that the South China Sea belongs to China) with altered maps shows the truth at a glance. In the Indian Ocean, India has always regarded itself as the leading country. Anti-piracy escorts in the Indian Ocean and the Maritime Silk Road initiative launched by other countries were regarded as a threat by India (Ye 2016). Therefore, it is particularly important to strengthen regional cooperation and guide the countries and regions involved to participate in the construction of the Maritime Silk Road.

1.3.5 Constant State of Conflict

Rampant piracy, volatile regional situations, and ongoing armed conflicts exist along the Maritime Silk Road. It is particularly important to guarantee the safety of the Maritime Silk Road. Escorts in the Gulf of Aden and the Yemen Evacuation show the great positive contribution of the Chinese Navy to world peace. In the future, remote islands and reefs need to be equipped with security forces to ensure that the legitimate interests of our country and those of international ships and personnel are inviolable. Security should not be carried out by independent implementation, which also needs to strengthen cooperation among the countries and regions along the Maritime Silk Road. The Maritime Silk Road will lead to the common prosperity of humanity. Therefore, in the process of its development, it is necessary to fully mobilize the enthusiasm of countries and regions along the route. When this initiative is deeply implanted in the public mind, and related to vital interests, the relevant countries will be actively involved in the escort of the Maritime Silk Road. In addition, we also need to strengthen legal protection as well as cooperation between legal protection and security forces for the construction of the Chinese-style overseas security model (Li 2015) and thus to contribute to world peace.

1.3.6 Great Opportunity

The challenging natural environment, scarcity of electricity and freshwater resources, different political and cultural bases, complex maritime rights disputes, and constant state of conflict greatly increase the difficulty of constructing the Maritime Silk Road. However, challenges and opportunities often coexist. If we can grasp the inherent law of the ocean, it will provide great benefits. The ocean is not only the cradle of human life but is also a huge resource repository, which includes a wide range of biological resources (fisheries, marine biopharmaceuticals), rich mineral resources (oil, combustible ice, etc.), chemical resources (metals and salts), and also dynamic energy (wave energy, offshore wind energy, tidal energy, temperature-difference energy, salt-difference energy, etc.). With the continuous development of human society, there has been a rapid increase in the demand for energy. Resource crises often result in environmental crises, and even serious armed conflicts. Coal, oil, and other conventional energy resources have become increasingly scarce in today’s world. Power supply issues have often restricted the economic development of coastal cities and isolated islands, but their predicament also points to the significant potential of new energy sources. Several countries, including China, advocate the application of clean energy. Energy conservation and emission reduction, as well as development of clean energy, are effective methods to cope with climatic changes and alleviate the energy crisis, which is a common strategy taken by many countries. Currently, the utilization of solar and onshore wind energy has been moving toward industrialization on a large scale, but it is restricted severely by the uneven distribution of different regional resources. Nuclear energy can provide a large amount of energy but carries a large potential threat, as seen in the nuclear leakage caused by the Japanese tsunami in March 2011 and the Soviet Chernobyl nuclear leakage caused by operational errors in April 1986, which caused serious damage. The development and utilization of marine energy resources is now at an early stage, and the advantages of wave energy, such as being safe, pollution-free, renewable, and available in large reserves over a wide distribution, have attracted the attention of developed countries. In January 2011, when Premier Li Keqiang visited the UK, the British demonstrated to him the advanced technology of wave power generation. The electricity dilemma has become a bottleneck that has restricted the sustainable development of every country. Rational development and utilization of new marine resources (offshore wind energy, wave energy, etc.) could be effective in easing the energy and environmental crises (Zheng and Li 2011, 2015a). In addition, shortages of electricity and freshwater are the primary reasons curbing development and construction on deep blue and remote islands and have been a worldwide problem for a long time (Zheng et al. 2013b, c, 2014c). Reasonably carrying out wave power and wind power generation will be a breakthrough in the electricity dilemma, as will solving the seawater desalination problem, which will also be conducive to protecting ecologically fragile islands and thereby improving their viability and sustainable development. At the same time, development and construction on remote islands will promote the development of shipping, thus contributing to marine economic construction.

1.4 Research Status of the Marine Environment, Resources, and Remote Islands and Reefs Construction

The ocean has become increasingly important in several fields such as climate, politics, economy, culture, and shipping (Li 2007, 2010, 2011). Only by deeply grasping the characteristics of the marine environment can we reasonably and efficiently utilize the ocean. Previous researchers have made great contributions to the analysis of the marine environment of the China seas. However, research on the northern Indian Ocean is scarce. In 2012, Zheng et al. (2012b) analyzed the characteristics of the wind and wave climate of the South China Sea and the northern Indian Ocean in advance, by using ERA-40 wind production and hindcast wave data. They found that a southwest wind prevails in the summer and a northeast wind prevails in the winter. Wave and wind direction coincide well in the monsoon region, although in equatorial waters the spring and autumn are transitional seasons. Wind and wave direction differ significantly in the monsoon transition season. The average wind speed during the monsoon transition season is relatively low. Relatively high wind speeds and wave heights occur in summer and winter in the waters off Somalia, in the Bay of Bengal, and in the traditional gale center of the South China Sea. Mei et al. (2010) used 45-year ERA-40 wind production data to drive the WAVEWATCH-III (WW3) wave model. EOF analysis of the wave and wind fields of the northern Indian Ocean and the South China Sea showed that the sea surface wind speed and significant wave height increase linearly, and the sea surface wind speed has a period of about 3 years. In the northern Indian Ocean, tropical cyclones are active primarily in the eastern Arabian Sea and in the eastern and central Bay of Bengal. Tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea are usually dominated by terrain and move northwest along the Western Ghats before finally landing in southern Pakistan, while tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal land in Bangladesh and southern Myanmar (Wu and Luo 2011). Zheng et al. (2013d) used Cross-Calibrated, Multi-Platform (CCMP) wind production data to drive the WW3 wave model to simulate the large waves caused by tropical cyclone “Thane” in the Bay of Bengal in December 2011, providing a reference for short-term numerical forecasting of ocean waves in this area.

Understanding the characteristics of the marine environment is a prerequisite for the safe and efficient construction of the Maritime Silk Road. However, existing studies on the marine environment are relatively weak and are not a good guarantee of the construction of the Maritime Silk Road.

Previous researchers have made great contributions to the analysis of wave and offshore wind energy resources. However, research on the Maritime Silk Road has been scarce until now and has not benefited marine energy development. Zheng et al. (2012c) and Zheng (2014) took the lead in studying the wave energy resources of the South China Sea and the northern Indian Ocean in the hope of providing power resources for marine development and construction in the relevant areas. The results showed that there are abundant wave energy resources in the South China Sea and the northern Indian Ocean; the annual mean wave power density in most of the research areas is above 2 kW/m, and three areas with obviously large values are the traditional gale center of the South China Sea, the waters off Somalia, and the area east of Sri Lanka. In addition, occurrences of wave power density greater than 2 kW/m and greater than 4 kW/m are high. The stability of wave energy in spring, autumn, and winter is better than that in summer, and the stability of wave energy in the South China Sea is better than that in the northern Indian Ocean.

Regarding the remote islands and reefs construction, these areas are generally based on reefs and islands and are usually far from the mainland. Shortages of electricity and freshwater are primary difficulties that have been a worldwide problem for a long time. In the era of high electrification and modernization, many devices cannot run without electricity, and the shortage of electricity can even lead to paralysis of the system. Human beings cannot survive without freshwater. The common practice is to use shipped diesel fuel for power generation, which has two obvious disadvantages: (1) bad sea conditions will affect ship supply, and (2) diesel generators cause pollution, which can damage the fragile ecology of islands and reefs. Once the ecology of islands and reefs is damaged, it is difficult to repair. Complete development and utilization of the marine energy resources (wave power generation, offshore wind power, etc.) in the waters surrounding remote islands and reefs according to local conditions will help in achieving electricity self-sufficiency on the reefs. After solving the power problem, the problem of desalination can then be solved. All these tasks must be carried out after completely grasping the characteristics of the marine resources. However, research on the wave and offshore wind energy resources of the Maritime Silk Road is still scarce. Zheng and Li (2015b) have verified the possibility of wave power and offshore wind power generation, which can provide a reference and guidance for remote islands and reefs on the Maritime Silk Road to resolve shortages of electricity and freshwater.

In 2015, Zheng Chong-wei’s team presented research termed as “Management and plan for 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” for the first time at home and abroad, with 12 scientific and technical papers published in the Journal of Xiamen University, Ocean Development and Management, and Acta Scientiarum Naturalium Universitatis Pekinensis (Zheng et al. 2015a, b, c, d, 2016a, b, c, d, 2017a, b; Wan et al. 2015; Chen et al. 2016). This series of research first analyzed the importance of the Maritime Silk Road in various fields such as economics, culture, and politics. Then, it systematically and finely analyzed the characteristics of the marine environment (wind climate, wave climate, rough sea occurrence, gale occurrence, extreme wind speed, extreme wave height, ocean current, etc.) based on ocean big data, as well as important routes and port characteristics, geographical features, climate features, and legal escort. The results of this series research can provide a reference for navigation, marine engineering, disaster prevention and reduction, and humanitarian aid. In addition, the spatial and temporal distribution characteristics of renewable energy (wave energy, offshore wind energy, etc.) were also analyzed in the hope of making a contribution to ease the energy and environmental crises and thus to promote sustainable development in the countries and regions involved, improve the quality of life of residents along the route, enhance the viability of remote islands, and thus help China to lead international marine development and construction.

1.5 Structure of This Series Publications

The “Maritime Silk Road” proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping represents China’s consistent theme of peace and development. It opens a new chapter of human interconnection, cooperation and win-win scenarios, equality, and mutual assistance. Construction of the Maritime Silk Road includes not only traditional navigation and shipping but also the development of marine new energy, island tourism, marine cultural exchange, maritime search and rescue, humanitarian relief, disaster prevention and reduction, and several other areas. The Maritime Silk Road will bring new opportunities for Chinese national rejuvenation and contributions to the common prosperity of human society. However, challenges and opportunities often coexist. The Maritime Silk Road links the South China Sea and the northern Indian Ocean, involving a large number of countries, a wide range, and long distances. The challenging natural environment, the scarcity of electricity and freshwater resources, the different political and cultural bases, the complex maritime rights disputes, and constant state of conflict greatly increase the difficulty of constructing the Maritime Silk Road. Obviously, an understanding the characteristics of the marine environment, energy, legal counsel and so on is a prerequisite for the safe and efficient construction of the Maritime Silk Road. However, relatively weak basic research and scarce marine data seriously restrict the full implementation of the Maritime Silk Road initiative and urgently need to be addressed.

This series publications is the first set of marine science monographs on the Maritime Silk Road, including the marine environment analysis, remote islands and reefs construction, marine new energy evaluation, difficulties and countermeasures of location choice of marine new energy, propagation characteristics of swell energy, long-term trends of oceanic parameters and marine new energy, short-term forecasting and long-term prediction of marine new energy, early warning of wave disasters and maritime search and rescue, legal escort, and so on. The mission of this series publications is to improve our cognitive ability to the ocean, thus to improve the capacity of our country for marine construction, enhance the viability of remote islands and reefs, ease the energy crisis facing human society, improve the quality of life of residents along the Maritime Silk Road, and protect the interests and enthusiasm of the countries and regions participating in the construction of the Maritime Silk Road. This series publications is written for national decision-makers, researchers, and marine engineering personnel related to the construction of the Maritime Silk Road.

This series publications first discusses the significance and challenges of the Maritime Silk Road initiative and provides corresponding countermeasures. Then, we focus on the necessity and difficulties of remote islands and reefs construction. According to the electricity and freshwater demand of remote islands and reefs construction, we evaluated the wave and offshore wind energy resources of the Maritime Silk Road, especially the feasibility of wave power generation, and wind power generation in the Gwadar port, Sri Lanka and other important remote islands and reefs, to realize the electricity and freshwater self-sufficiency of these key points and thus to improve their viability. There are many researches on the short-term forecasting and long-term prediction of the oceanic and meteorological parameters. However, the short-term forecasting and long-term prediction of the marine new energy is scarce, which is realized in this series publications to serve the daily operation and mid- to long-term planning of energy development. In addition, a scientific energy classification scheme is closely related to the rationale that informs the choice of power plants location. The traditional wind/wave energy classification schemes consider only partial energy factors. In this series publications, a new energy classification scheme that incorporates a comprehensive consideration of wind/wave energy factors, environmental risk factors, and cost factors is proposed, which is used to zone the potential of offshore wind energy and wave energy resources on the Maritime Silk Road, especially in waters surrounding important remote islands and reefs. This scheme also has practical value for both macro- and micro-scale classifications of marine new energy resources globally. Combining leading and lagging correlation coefficients, the empirical orthogonal function (EOF) method, and wavelet analysis, this series publications proposes a new method to exhibit the exact propagation route, speed, and intraseasonal oscillation of swell energy in order to provide a reference for swell power generation, ocean wave forecasting, and other areas of interest. Based on the above systematic analysis, a big marine resource data regarding the Maritime Silk Road is built to provide base data for our country and our international counterparts.

To promote the safe and efficient implementation of the Maritime Silk Road initiative, according to the demands of marine energy development, port construction, route planning, maritime search and rescue, remote islands and reefs construction, and disaster prevention and reduction, we also analyzed the marine environment of the Maritime Silk Road, systematically including the wind climate, wave climate, ocean current characteristics, long-term trends of oceanic parameters, the threat and characteristics of swell, early warning of wave disasters, and maritime search and rescue. Combining the leading and lagging correlation coefficients, empirical orthogonal function (EOF) method and wavelet analysis, this series publications proposed a new method to exhibit the exact propagation route and speed and intraseasonal oscillation of swell energy, to provide a reference for swell power generation, ocean wave forecasting, and other areas of interest.

This series publications realizes the standardization and visualization of modular data, covering marine new resource development, marine environmental analysis, remote islands and reefs construction, maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and reduction, legal escort, and other modules. At the same time, we also provide a reserve module to attract more researchers to actively participate in the scientific research of the Maritime Silk Road. Finally, we build a practical, theoretical system that is a query-convenient integrated application platform for the Maritime Silk Road to provide a scientific reference and decision-making support for the national strategy.

This series of books fills in a number of blanks for the Maritime Silk Road, such as remote islands and reefs construction, marine new energy evaluation, marine energy classification, short-term forecasting of wave energy resources, long term prediction of wave energy resources, long-term trend analysis of marine new energy, analysis of the propagation characteristics of swell energy, marine environment analysis, ocean disaster warning, and maritime search and rescue, in the hope of providing a scientific reference and decision-making support for the safe and efficient implementation of the Maritime Silk Road initiative, thus contributing to the sea dream, Chinese dream, and the common prosperity and progress of human society.

1.6 Structure of This Book

In this book, this chapter first discusses the significance of the Maritime Silk Road. It then analyzes the challenges involved in the construction of the Maritime Silk Road and provides corresponding countermeasures. Chapters  2 4 primarily analyze the characteristics of the marine environment, including the wind climate, wave climate, and ocean currents, in the hope of guaranteeing the safe and efficient implementation of the Maritime Silk Road initiative. Chapter  5 presents the characteristics of the marine resources and the utilization status of the countries and regions along the Maritime Silk Road, in the hope of providing a reference for new ocean energy development and thus contributing to easing the energy and environmental crises. Chapter  6 analyzes the characteristics of the important routes, channels, and ports to provide a reference for ocean navigation, freight transport, ship supply, and so on. Chapter  7 presents the Maritime Silk Road from the perspective of international law in providing legal escort to deal with economic disputes, trade friction, maritime rights disputes, and so on. Chapter  8 proposes the building of a practical, theoretical system that is a query-convenient integrated application platform for the Maritime Silk Road to provide a scientific reference and decision-making support for the national strategy. We hope that this book can provide scientific guidance and technological support, assist in decision-making support for the construction of the Maritime Silk Road, and contribute to the common prosperity and progress of human society.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chongwei Zheng
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ziniu Xiao
    • 2
  • Wen Zhou
    • 3
  • Xiaobin Chen
    • 4
  • Xuan Chen
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Meteorology and OceanographyNational University of Defense TechnologyNanjingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of Energy and EnvironmentCity University of Hong KongKowloon TongChina
  4. 4.No. 92538 of People’s Liberation ArmyDalianChina
  5. 5.No. 75839 of People’s Liberation ArmyGuangzhouChina

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