Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Experts identify East Sea situation to remain stable

The Hanoitimes – International experts and scholars at the 8th International Conference on the East Sea, recently held in Nha Trang, have forecast that the situation in the waters will remain stable in the near future although the year 2016 witnessed significant changes to the status quo in the region.
The 8th International Conference on the East Sea themed “Cooperation for Regional Security and Development”
The 8th International Conference on the East Sea themed “Cooperation for Regional Security and Development”
Michael McDevitt, a retired rear admiral of the US Navy and Senior Fellow of the Strategic Studies Programme, the US Centre for Naval Analyses, was of the opinion that the East Sea situation in the near term will remain quiet and stable partially due to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Philippines’ lawsuit against China’s claims in the East Sea last July.
The 8th International Conference on the East Sea, themed “Cooperation for Regional Security and Development”, stressed the need to promote ASEAN’s central role in managing disputes in the East Sea. Commenting on the origin of the East Sea dispute, many participating scholars said it began decades ago, saying that the nine-dash line claimed by China is to initially define sovereignty over islands without resorting to any legal and scientific grounds.
About the recent developments in the East Sea, they shared view that China is likely to reach consensus with several Southeast Asian countries to soften disputes, but on field, it has still maintained, or even enhanced its presence and control in the area, including the Scarborough Shoal and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.
They called for establishing mechanisms to manage conflicts in fishing, fuel production and marine environment protection. Regarding the legal aspect, participants said the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration acknowledges that developments in the East Sea over the past time run counter to the regulations of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Evan Laksmana, a researcher of the Department of Politics and International Relations, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Indonesia, shared the view that the situation “may not be so bad” and there will be no major incidents and clashes in the area. Prof. Stein Tonnesson from Norway’s Peace Research Institute Oslo said the arbitration awards may weaken the idea that China has historical rights to resources in the East Sea.
Commenting on the court’s ruling, Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, Deputy Director of the Bien Dong Maritime Institute, the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, said the awards brought clarity to two important aspects of the disputes in the East Sea which are sovereignty and maritime claims. Regarding the former, although the Tribunal held no jurisdiction on sovereign issues and could not, therefore, rule on the strengths and weaknesses of the legal grounds on which sovereignty claims were made, the Tribunal were still capable of identifying the subjects matters of sovereignty claims, she said. As a result, the disputed maritime zones in the East Sea has been quarantined and significantly narrowed, Lan Anh added.
Dr. Vladimir Evseev, Deputy Director of Russia’s Institute of CommonwealthCountries, stressed that any territorial dispute should be resolved by peaceful measures in line with international law. The settlement is not to identify the winner but to build a stability-based regional security system, he said.
Evan Laksmana also said through the ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit, many ASEAN member countries expressed their wish that the East Sea issue and the ruling will not become the only issue between ASEAN and China.
Nearly 30 reports were presented through the course of the two-day conference, which comprised of seven thematic sessions focusing on the historical perspective of the cause of disputes in the East Sea, international law and the East Sea, political economy, security, politics and diplomacyregarding the waters, interactions and coordination at sea, and mechanisms for tension management in the East Sea.
In his closing speech, Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam Associate Professor Nguyen Vu Tung urged parties concerned to take constructive approaches, respect each other and abide by international law. The conference took place in an open, straightforward and practical manner and showed a meaningful effort to contribute to promoting international cooperation for peace and stability in the East Sea, he said.


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