DOC Promotes Peace, Trust, Cooperation Between ASEAN, China: Foreign Affairs Expert

As the first document achieved by ASEAN and China on the South China issue, the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) had become the basic instrument for building political mutual trust among regional countries and laid a solid foundation for the further development and upgrading of China-ASEAN relations.
August 19, 2022 | 17:15

The Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) has contributed to promoting peace, trust and cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, former Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Dy Nien told a conference held by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 25.

DOC promotes peace, trust, cooperation between ASEAN, China: Foreign Affairs Expert
The workshop was organized by the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Foreign Ministry with the assistance of Wuhan University China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies and the National Institute for the South China Sea Studies (Photo: Vietnam News Agency)

This is the virtual event to mark the 20th anniversary of the DOC. It brought together incumbent and former Foreign Ministers of ASEAN member states, including those joining the signing of the document in 2002, as well as a number of scholars from both sides.

DOC promotes peace, trust, cooperation between ASEAN, China: Foreign Affairs Expert
In his remarks, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi referred peace and stability in the South China Sea as a prerequisite for development in the region (Photo: Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Adelaide)

The Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed concerned parties continue maintaining peace and cooperation at sea and promote talks for the early finalization of a practical and effective COC in line with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation.

Representatives from Vietnam also comprised Ambassador to China Pham Sao Mai and Vice Chairman of the National Boundary Commission under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Manh Dong.

The event featured three sessions discussing the historic moment of the signing, the results and prospects for the DOC implementation, and the progress and direction for consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) between ASEAN and China.

Nguyen Dy Nien said that the DOC was the first important document signed between ASEAN and a partner country, emphasizing that it reaffirms respect and commitment of the parties to freedom of navigation and aviation in the South Sea and to peacefully settling disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

Incumbent FMs from ASEAN member states held that ASEAN and China must continue fully implementing the DOC and provide an enabling environment for the talks on the COC; while their predecessors recalled the necessity of the DOC and the process towards its signing two decades ago and reiterated its crucial role in maintaining regional peace, security, stability, cooperation, and prosperity.

DOC promotes peace, trust, cooperation between ASEAN, China: Foreign Affairs Expert
"The last and most important thing is to turn the South China Sea into a sea of ​​peace, friendship and cooperation, contributing to the prosperity and development of the region and the world," said Vice Chairman of the National Boundary Commission under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Manh Dong attending the conference (Photo: Bao Quoc Te).

Regarding the COC - one of the important contents of the DOC, Vice Chairman of the National Boundary Commission Nguyen Manh Dong said that the results of COC negotiations have been fairly positive and substantive so far and that the parties must practice self-restraint, avoid any actions that may complicate the situation, and respect rights and interests of concerned parties in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.

Dong also stressed that since the South China Sea area has been receiving much attention from countries inside and outside the region, its situation, security, and stability not only directly affect countries in the region but also, more broadly, the international situation.

"The policy of Vietnam and that of many countries are to welcome the responsible contributions of the parties, in accordance with international law, especially UNCLOS 1982; exercise rights, including freedom of navigation, overflight, and other rights in accordance with the Convention, and contribute responsibly to the process of maintaining peace, security, stability, and cooperation in the area," said Dong.

He believes that in the context of complicated developments in the South China Sea region, the implementation of the DOC should be prioritized, especially in the following aspects: (i) strictly complying with commitments, respecting respect the legitimate rights and interests of coastal states established in accordance with UNCLOS; (ii) strengthen the review of DOC implementation; (iii) promote specific cooperation projects and programs in line with commitments.

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