Diplomats, experts talk territorial disputes in East Sea
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.
Brussels workshop discusses East Sea tensions
A workshop focusing on recent tensions in the East Sea was held on May 20 in Brussels, Belgium by the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations and the Philippine Embassy in the country.
In his speech at the event, Antonio T. Carpio, a legal expert from the Philippines’ Supreme Court gave detailed analysis of current disputes at the East Sea basing on three types of documents: historical documentations and ancient maps; official documentations and declarations of relevant governments; and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
These documentations show that China’s territorial and sovereignty claims in the East Sea have no legal foundation, he stressed.
Regarding China’s recent fishing ban in the East Sea, Erik Franckx, a lecturer from Brussels Freedom University said as all coastal nations have the right to exploit seafood resources in the sea, China’s action would further fuel tensions in the region.
Talking to a Vietnam News Agency correspondent, Vietnamese Honour Consul to Belgium Baron de Grand Ry said that Vietnamese fishermen have the right to conduct offshore fishing activities in the East Sea, adding that Vietnam and relevant countries should consider adopting a diplomatic agreement with China in order to avoid conflicts.
The same day, the Euro Presse Image ran an article on a similar workshop held in Paris, France on May 19.
The article recalled recent sea-related developments in the region, including China’s unilateral claim of an air defence identification zone over disputed waters with Japan and China’s illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in 2014. It said these acts escalated tension in the region and prompted other regional countries to increase their military capacity.
At the seminar, participants called on the European Union, including France, to join global efforts to deal with disputes in the East Sea based on the 1982 UNCLOS.