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The new maritime Silk Road: China and Asean – Prof Wang Gungwu

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Abstract by Zaharul Abdullah: The Classical Silk Road has long been known for its overland and maritime routes since ancient times. Along the classical maritime route that ran through Southeast Asia, many ports thrived and calling on these ports were not only ships carrying silk but also those loaded with porcelain, ironware, spices, precious stones and books. This maritime route complemented the overland route, adding a brilliant chapter to the annals of human civilisation.

By drawing inspiration both from history and from latest developments in the 21st Century, China proposed jointly building a 21st Century maritime Silk Road on 3 October 2013 to mark the 10th anniversary of the China-Asean Strategic Partnership.

The initiative aims to boost China-Asean maritime cooperation and forge closer ties in a community of a shared future. It envisions a network of interconnected markets linking Asean, South Asia, West Asia, North Africa and Europe, and a strategic partnership for the South China Sea and the Pacific and Indian oceans.

To discuss these and related developments and issues, the Academy of Professors Malaysia organised a lecture entitled “The New Maritime Silk Road: China and Asean” with Emeritus Prof Wang Gungwu as the guest speaker.

Prof Wang is a notable historian and an expert in Chinese diaspora and China studies. He has held various academic and administrative positions in at least four countries: Malaysia, Australia, China (Hong Kong) and Singapore. He became the dean of the Arts Faculty University of Malaya in 1962 (Malaysia); head of the Department of Far Eastern History at the Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University (1968-1975, 1980-1986) and director of the Research School (1975-1980) (Australia); vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong (China); and director of the East Asia Institute, then known as the Institute of East Asian Political Economy (Singapore).

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Organiser: Akademi Profesor Malaysia

Guest speaker: Emeritus Prof Wang Gungwu, chairman, East Asian Institute; professor, National University of Singapore

Opening remarks: Prof Daing Mohd Nasir Daing Ibrahim, president, Academy of Professors Malaysia

Moderator: Emeritus Prof Johan Saravanamuttu, adjunct senior fellow, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University; fellow, Academy of Professors Malaysia


  • Prof Danny Wong Tze Ken, dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya
  • Emeritus Prof Abdul Rahman Embong, former principal fellow, Ikmas, UKM; special advisor, Malaysian Social Science Association; fellow, Academy of Professors Malaysia
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Dr Johan Saravanamuttu, a long-time Aliran member, is emeritus professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia, adjunct professor at the Asia Europe Institute, University of Malaya and adjunct senior fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He believes in politics as a vocation but is frustrated that it is often the refuge of opportunists and the morally depraved
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