The eighth International Conference on the East Sea (South China Sea), themed “Cooperation for Regional Security and Development,” opened in the central coastal city of Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa Province on November 14.
The conference, jointly held by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), the Foundation for East Sea Studies and the Vietnam Lawyers Association, brings together nearly 200 delegates, including close to 60 foreign scholars.
Amidst notable developments in the East Sea during the past year, the conference offers an opportunity for domestic and foreign scholars and researchers to share information and assess the recent developments in the sea as well as their repercussions, while discussing possibilities for further cooperation in the region.
The eighth International Conference on the East Sea opens in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa province__Photo: VNA
Nearly 30 reports will be presented through the course of the two-day conference, comprised of seven thematic sessions focusing on the historical perspective of the cause of disputes in the East Sea, international law and the East Sea, political economy, security, politics and diplomacy regarding the waters, interactions and coordination at sea, and mechanisms for tension management in the East Sea.
Through discussions, the delegates will seek opportunities and initiatives to promote understanding and cooperation in the East Sea in the spirit of principles of international law.
A special session will be held for the first time for representatives of naval and law enforcement forces of relevant countries, who will discuss interaction and coordination field measures in order to avoid unexpected clashes and boost maritime cooperation.
As part of the conference, the annual Young Leaders Program will gather eight young researchers and PhD candidates from seven countries, aiming to build a network of young researchers on the East Sea issue in the hope they contribute fresh views on how to step up cooperation for peace and development in the sea.
In his opening remarks, Assoc. Prof. Dr Nguyen Vu Tung, Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, said tensions in the region have shown no signs of cooling down in 2016, as conflicts and changes of the status quo continue.
As examples, he cited dangerous clashes between fishing boats and law enforcement ships near the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago and especially the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, while island reclamation and militarization in disputes areas are becoming increasingly complicated.
At the same time, the ocean environment in the region has degraded at an alarming rate, Tung added.
The scholar said he hopes the event will put forth initiatives to help concerned Governments coordinate with each other to improve security and common development in the East Sea, especially ideas aiming to build, consolidate and utilize regional security mechanisms to manage disputes and handle complex issues in the sea peacefully.
Le Thanh Quang, Secretary of the Khanh Hoa provincial Party Committee, expressed concerns about the East Sea situation, where competition sometimes has taken precedent over cooperation and where international law has not been respected at times and in some places. He worries this pattern will continue to undermine trust between countries in the region.
The situation poses an urgent need to seek a long-term solution to the regional disputes and to form mechanisms that maintain order and law at sea, he said.
Attention should be paid to not only peace and stability, but also to issues regarding rights and obligations of the related parties, livelihoods of coastal residents and sustainability of the ocean ecology, he said.
On this occasion, a new website providing the latest research studies on maritime security, politics, economy and relevant laws was launched.- (VNS/VLLF)