German scholars strongly criticised China’s recent moves in the East Sea at a scientific conference held at the headquarters of Die Tageszeitung (TAZ) newspaper in Berlin on December 9.

In his speech, Dr. Gerhard Will, former senior expert at the German Institute for International Politics and Science, gave an overview of the historical issues and recent developments in the East Sea as well as highlighted a risk of increasing tensions in the waters as China conducts illegal construction activities on islands and increases military activities here.

According to Will, the East Sea, one of the leading international maritime routes, is of special importance for global trade, so it is of vital interest for the international community, including Germany, to maintain a peaceful environment and ensure smooth maritime and aviation trade via the waters.

He said that China’s increasing construction activities in Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes, together with its previous placement of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, has made the regional situation tense again.

China’s building of artificial islands and its expansion of some reefs such as Chu Thap (Fiery Cross) and Gac Ma (Johnson South) in Truong Sa ran counter to international law and violated the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), he said, adding that the breaking of the status quo of these islands will make negative impacts on security and stability in the region and the world at large.

He noted that the East Sea disputes should be settled via negotiations on the basis of international law. Concerned parties need to build trust based on the two pillars of economic cooperation and political dialogue while maintaining both bilateral and multilateral dialogue mechanisms.

Meanwhile, Dr. Andreas Seifert, a military analyst from the Tuebingen society of military studies, focused on China ’s nine-dotted line claim in the East Sea and the country’s propaganda on its illegal island construction in the waters.

This claim is legally and geologically groundless, he said, adding that it derives from abundant reserves of oil, gas and maritime resources in the East Sea as well as its strategic geo-political position on the international maritime life-line.

According to Seifert, neighbouring countries should be cautious of China’s nine-dash line intention and its tactics of building and consolidating islands in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

Prof. Dr. Howard Loewen from the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy under the University of Hamburg, analysed the role of a regional security mechanism in ensuring peace in the East Sea, emphasising the need for a power balance in the region with big countries like the US, Japan, India, Russia and Australia raising their stronger voices against China’s claims.

Both Seifert and Loewen agreed that the East Sea disputes can only be solved by peaceful means in respect for the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982) and the international community should have a stronger voice on this issue.-VNA