The regional seminar on ASEAN and the East Sea in Phnom Penh, which closed on September 20, showed a shift in the approach of both ASEAN and China to the East Sea issue, the Vietnamese head delegate to the event said.

Dr. Nguyen Hung Son, Deputy Director of the East Sea Institute under the Vietnam Diplomatic Academy , said Chinese delegates no longer asked whether the East Sea is an issue between China and the ASEAN, and whether a Code of Conduct on the East Sea is necessary. Instead, they now focused their attention on the possible impacts on the ASEAN-China strategic partnership if the two sides fail to control the situation on the East Sea , and measures to build such a Code of Conduct.

Similarly, ASEAN delegates focused the discussion on measures to enhance the bloc’s common voice and solidarity regarding the East Sea issue, as well as how countries without any claim on the East Sea can contribute to ASEAN’s joint efforts to address this issue.

According to Dr. Son, the Vietnamese delegation’s report at the seminar was applauded by other participants. The report stressed that the peaceful settlement of the East Sea issue is a prerequisite to building trust and lifting ties between ASEAN and China to greater heights.

All delegates called for disagreements to be solved constructively and determinedly, and warned that a failure to do this poses risks to bilateral strategic partnerships and peace and stability in the region.

Entitled “ASEAN and the East Sea : achievements, challenges, and future orientations,” the event was co-hosted by the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace and Japan ’s International Foundation for Culture and Arts.

It took place just days after the ninth meeting of the ASEAN-China working group on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the sixth ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meeting in Suzhou , China .

The outcomes of the seminar are expected to contribute to the success of the 16 th ASEAN-China Summit, slated to take place this October in Brunei.-VNA