12th South China Sea International Conference opens hinh anh 1Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The 12th South China Sea International Conference, with the theme “Maintaining Peace and Cooperation through a Time of Turbulence”, kicked off on November 16 in both the in-person and online formats.

Jointly held by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), the Foundation for East Sea Studies (FESS), and the Vietnam Lawyers' Association, the two-day conference has attracted over 700 delegates, including nearly 60 prestigious experts from 30 nations, 12 ambassadors and representatives from over 20 foreign representative offices in Vietnam, and nearly 100 domestic and foreign journalists.

In his welcome remarks, member of the Party Central Committee and Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son said COVID-19 has created a lot of turbulence and revealed smouldering conflicts in societies, eroding trust between nations and affecting peace and stability.

The East Sea situation is an unpredictable challenge affecting peace, stability, and cooperation in the region, with problems such as unilaterally interpreting international law that does not conform to the international community’s common standards and interests, geopolitical competition, and militarisation in the East Sea.

Son stressed the need for parties to step up dialogue and win-win cooperation, seek peaceful solutions to differences and conflicts at sea on the basis of international law, and intensify cooperation to turn the East Sea into a sea of connectivity and cooperation instead of competition and confrontation.

It is essential to proactively prevent the risk of unwanted clashes at sea, promote cooperation for economic recovery and mutual development, work together to protect natural resources, and seek the peaceful settlement of overlapping claims in the East Sea in accordance with international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982).

He proposed that countries continue promoting the central role of ASEAN in the regional security structure, supporting the ASEAN Vision on the Indo-Pacific Region, and creating favourable conditions for ASEAN and China to soon finish negotiations over a Code of Conduction in the East Sea (COC).

Parties involved should not conduct unilateral military and civil activities that could change the status quo in the East Sea, he added.

Acting President of the DAV Pham Lan Dung said this is the first time the conference has been organised in both the in-person and online formats, with a record number of speakers invited from around the world. Another new feature is a special discussion session for young leaders, who are encouraged to share their opinions on the East Sea issue./.