Maritime policies may change in content over time, but the viewpoints and doctrines must be unchanged – developing a sea-borne economy associated with the protection of national sea and island sovereignty.
The programming and implementation of sea-related policies can be found in the marine strategy and the Law of the Sea as well as some other legal documents. However, there are still opinions that Vietnam’s policies are not comprehensive and synchronous.
Of course, the incompatibility has, more or less, has had effects on Vietnam’s sea-borne economy, which still does not serve the position and the role of the sea and islands.
The higher the synchronization in sea-related policies, the better efficiency of the marine economy development will become. And the lack of synchronization in policies must be fixed.
It is necessary to amend the existing problems in the current sea-related policies. This is a must and this comes in line with the law of development. Every principle is correct and is appropriate under certain circumstances. The next generations need to have the right to choose for themselves suitable policies which better fit the development situation of the country.
So, what do the current sea-related policies need to have in order to both better foster the development of the sea-borne economy and protect the sovereignty in Vietnam’s territorial waters?
This is a topic of discussion at scientific workshops and conferences about the East Sea these days.
The purpose of the amendments to the current maritime policies is planning the lines for development which are more comprehensive with the connection and interrelation between the sea-borne economy development and the protection of territorial integrity.
First, the State needs to gather strength to build up strong maritime sovereignty protection forces. These forces must be equipped with modern facilities equal to that in the region and the world.
Naval forces, Coast Guard, Border Guards and Fisheries forces must be comprehensively strong in all fields. The equipment and facilities of the maritime sovereignty protection forces must be good enough to ensure long operation campaigns on Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and international waters when necessary.
Second, it is necessary to clarify the role of marine economic sectors, while the policy on marine economic development must be synchronous and detailed.
It is indispensable to make appropriate investments for long-term development vision, such as building a seaport system and developing the maritime transport system. In the field of marine resources exploitation, it needs to be capable of working well on Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
Vietnam has great potential for sea-borne economy, but the current development of marine economic sectors doesn’t match the potential, especially seaports and maritime transport. The major reason behind this is the lack of synchronization of policies in the field.
Third, the theory in building sea-related policies must both ensure peace and stability and preserve the nation’s core interests. The policies must also come in line with the international legal system. The State resolves the disputes related to sea and islands with peaceful means complying with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, laws and international practice.
The East Sea region is located in the whirlwind of geopolitics, where big countries have benefits and scramble for influence. Therefore, modern marine policy theory must solve the country's internal problem to become a strong nation thanks to the sea and to get rich with the sea, as well as respond effectively to the world and regional situation.
Nguyen Thanh Minh, Coast Guard High Command, Ministry of Defense