The territorial disputes in East Sea was the centre of discussions at a conference titled ‘ASEAN Maritime Space Management – Ideas for Argentina’, which was held on May 20 at the Interamerican Open University (UAI) in Argentina’s capital city of Buenos Aires.

Argentine political and geopolitical experts and Southeast Asian countries’ ambassadors to Argentina examined various aspects of what has been happening in the East Sea.

Ambassadors from Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia reaffirmed that maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea is a righteous concern to many countries.

They underlined the need for the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) as well as the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC), adding that the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) should be responsible for and take the initiative in preventing the escalation of disputes in the East Sea.

Vietnam’s Ambassador to Argentina, Nguyen Dinh Thao, clarified that Vietnam has full historical and legal evidence to prove its sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes.

He reiterated Vietnam’s stance of solving disputes in East Sea via peaceful measures based on international law.

On his part, the Philippines’ ambassador to Argentina, Maria Amelita Aquino, slammed China’s groundless ‘nine-dot line’ claim as well as its ambitions in East Sea.

She also mentioned the legal case in which the Philippines sues China on violating the UNCLOS at the United Nations’ Arbitration Court by occupying Scarbourough Shoal and preventing the Philippines from exercising legal rights in its special economic zone.

She cited historical evidence such as old Chinese and Philippine maps which clearly showed China’s southernmost point during feudal dynasties as Hainan Island.

Indonesia’s ambassador to Argentina, Jonny Sinaga, said that ASEAN countries need to prioritize the completion of the COC which he said is an effective tool to prevent disputes on jurisdiction from developing into serious tensions or open conflicts in the East Sea.

Addressing the event, Prof. Maria Susana Duran Saenz, head of the UAI’s international relations department, emphasised the importance of conducting research into sea and island disputes in the world, especially the powers’ involvement in such disputes, in order to draw useful lessons for members of the Union of South American Nations, especially Argentina.

Prof. Juan Manuel Pippia, an expert on Asia-Pacific geopolitics, said that the Southeast Asia has problems that are similar to South America’s, especially in maritime transport as well as economy.

He also touched upon the general situation of the ASEAN, the history of disputes in the East Sea, the recent rise of China and its demand for energy and the oil and gas potential in the region.

Prof. Ezequiel Ramoneda, an expert on the East at the Salvador University in Argentina, mentioned different aspects in territorial disputes in the East Sea, including China’s ‘nine-dot line’ concept and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Ramoneda, also a coordinator of the Southeast Asia Research Centre at the International Relations Institute of the La Plata National University, highlighted the ASEAN countries’ stance of the East Sea issue and the importance of the implementation of the DOC.-VNA