The fifth international workshop on the East Sea opened in Hanoi on November 11 with the participation of more than 200 Vietnamese and foreign scholars, experts, government officials and representatives from diplomatic corps in Vietnam.

Addressing the opening ceremony, President of the Diplomacy Academy of Vietnam, Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, said in the past five years, the East Sea situation has undergone significant changes, in both positive and not-so-positive ways.

International and regional awareness on the importance of the East Sea has been raised and as a result, there is now a wide recognition of the urgency to preserve peace and stability in the East Sea, he noted.

In pursuit of their own interests as well as common interests of the region and the world, parties, directly and indirectly involved in the East Sea, have adjusted their policy, sometimes more assertive and aggressive, but in general, they have exercised self-restraint and refrained from causing armed conflicts, he said.

Ambassador Quy warned that in the next five years, the East Sea continues to be a potential source of instability and is home to one of the most complicated disputes in the world.

Aggressive nationalism is brewing in many countries, military and para-military modernisation is gaining momentum and trust has eroded among concerned parties. Coupled with the negative developments over the last five years, these trends will further aggravate the East Sea disputes, possibly turning armed conflicts into a reality, he said.

“Such a situation compels us – researchers and policy advisors – to step up our efforts and creativity to increase public attention of the East Sea, to persuade leaders to better contemplate national interests before conducting any activity in the East Sea and to develop effective mechanisms in managing tensions and avoiding conflicts in the East Sea,” he noted.

During the event, Nyan Lynn, ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General relayed a keynote speech by Secretary-General Le Luong Minh, which clarifies that ASEAN has a key interest and significant role in preserving peace and stability in the East Sea.

Four claimant States in the East Sea are members of the association, while eight ASEAN countries border the sea, Minh noted.

“Without peace, be it on land or at sea, as the bedrock foundation for forging sustainable regional integration, the ASEAN Community would be difficult to achieve. As such, there is an intimate linkage between a peaceful Southeast Asia and a prosperous and dynamic ASEAN,” the Secretary-General said.

ASEAN has been consistent in its efforts to ensure peace and stability in the East Sea, he said, stressing that it is a long-standing position upheld by ASEAN that territorial disputes in the East Sea should be settled among the parties concerned by peaceful means, without resorting to the use or the threat to use force, and in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

This position has been crystalised in ASEAN’s Six-Point Principles in the East Sea adopted in 2012, which constitute the basis for ASEAN to engage with China on the East Sea issues, he noted.

Over the past years, the association has exerted efforts to create a trustful framework for parties to dialogue and cooperate.

With hard work, persistence and good will from both sides, the first official consultation on a Code of Conduct (COC) was held by the ASEAN-China Senior Officials in Suzhou, China, in mid-September this year, he cited.

The ASEAN leader also affirmed that in the future, the association will continue pushing all involved parties to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and speed up the negotiation process for the COC.

Jointly held by the Diplomacy Academy of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Lawyers Association with the theme “The East Sea: Cooperation for Regional Security and Development”, the two day workshop will focus on recent development in the East Sea, international law, the 1982 UNCLOS, and international and regional experience learnt from the settlement of sea disputes.

Participants at the event will also review the implementation of the DOC, discuss the management of disputes and the future of the East Sea, and propose related policies.-VNA