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File photo of an aerial view of Yongxing Island, which is part of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. [Photo/IC]

China has built extensive blue partnerships to carry out all-around international cooperation on marine eco-environmental protection, contributing Chinese wisdom to global marine governance, according to a white paper released on Thursday by the State Council Information Office.

"The ocean serves as a rich repository of natural resources and a strategic priority for high-quality development," said Sun Shuxian, vice-minister of natural resources and director of the State Oceanic Administration, at a news conference held in Beijing for the release of the white paper.

"Amid prominent global challenges such as marine security, development and governance, China has consistently advanced global marine governance processes and remains a steadfast advocate of and active participant in the protection of marine ecosystems," Sun said.

Since China ratified and became a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1996, the country has joined more than 30 multilateral treaties related to oceans. China has also established a policy system surrounding marine eco-environmental protection, resource conservation and management of polar activities under the framework of international conventions, the white paper said.

Guo Fang, vice-minister of ecology and environment, cited the China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2023-30), which was adopted under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP15. By designating the ocean as a critical focus, the plan underscores the restoration of essential yet fragile marine ecosystems such as estuaries, bays, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass beds.

With over 28,000 marine species, representing around 11 percent of the world's known species, China stands as one of the most biodiverse countries in terms of marine life, showcasing the country's efforts on marine protection and restoration, Guo said.

Sun highlighted China's commitment to tackling global marine eco-environmental issues through extensive collaborative endeavors.

"China has signed marine cooperation agreements with more than 50 countries and international organizations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, contributing significantly to solid cooperation," he said, adding that China has engaged in practical cooperation with countries in the European Union, Southeast Asia and Africa.

China also leads in international deep-sea and polar exploration, according to the white paper. The country has conducted more than 80 scientific research voyages in the deep sea, including collaborations with Russia, Japan, Nigeria, Seychelles and Indonesia.

In addition, China's approach to marine eco-environmental protection has provided insights for global marine restoration efforts.

Guo cited the governance of the Bohai Sea, the semi-enclosed sea in China, which used to be plagued by problems such as water quality deterioration, ecological degradation and resource depletion. However, the water quality of 83.5 percent of nearshore areas now ranges from good to excellent.

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