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ENGLISH SCS WORKSHOP

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"...
Now a few words about the official positions of Russia.

The South China Sea is situated rather far from Moscow and it seems that its problems must not to be in priorities of Russian foreign policy and interests. But it is not so because Russia is and will be for ever a great maritime power of the Pacific and our country is deeply interested to assure that the region has a sustainable international status with assured freedom of navigation and sea communications.

The APR  represents a sphere of vital interests for Russia. Russia is connected by relations of strategic partnership with China as well as with SRV. Such a partnership is a certain form of organization of common activity of states in fundamental spheres and planned for a longue predictable perspectives and based on the mutual recognition, respect and promotion of each other interests fixed in a treaties and oriented for achievement of common or similar vital objectives.

Just why Russia as other countries of the region is deeply interested in such a way of development of the situation in SCS zone which could permit to keep it in the framework of peaceful mutually respectful negotiations of participants involved in the conflict on all disputable issues’ and could lead to creation in this dangerous region of an atmosphere of peace, stability, mutual trust and cooperation..."

"The political environment in the South China Sea seems to have come a long way from the 1980’s and 1990’s when it was a locus of confrontation and conflict.  Indeed, the China-Vietnam clash of 1988 in which about 70 Vietnamese died, and China’s 1995 occupation and building of structures on the Philippines-claimed Mischief Reef seem like relics of a previous era.  Conflict has given way to co-operation in which China, Vietnam and the Philippines have undertaken co-operative seismic surveys in an agreed area.  But are these advances fundamental and durable – or fragile and temporary?  This brief examines recent developments in this context and suggests steps forward.

In 2002, ASEAN and China signed a Declaration on Conduct in which they promised “to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means without resorting to the threat or use of force” and “to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability”. And China, Vietnam and the Philippines have agreed on a web of bilateral codes of conduct.  All claimants have also agreed to move towards a more formal and legally-binding multilateral Code of Conduct --- but its realization remains out of reach and the declaration has been violated numerous times by several parties thereto.  Indeed, the down-side is that no progress has been made for seven years.  The “soft” nature of the declaration which enabled its acceptance in the first place – it is not a legally binding document – makes it difficult even to raise the issue, let alone exert pressure on fellow signatories to move towards implementation.  Moreover China has now made a proposal which has deadlocked the process --- that there be two prior meetings before an ASEAN –China meeting – one among the four ASEAN claimants (Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam), and one between all of ASEAN.  China remains opposed to internationalization or regionalization of the dispute and would like to prevent or weaken ASEAN solidarity on these issues and continue to address them on a bilateral basis..."

Dr. Tran Cong Truc, MEASURES FOR MAINTENANCE OF PEACE, STABILITY AND ENHANCEMENT OF COOPERATION ON THE SOUTH CHINA SEA ( translated version)

"...The territorial dispute over the Paracels involves Vietnam and China. This dispute arose at the beginning of the 20th century (in 1909), starting with the brief visit by Commander-in-Chief Ly Chuan to some islands with a short landing on Woody island. This was precisely because the archipelago was under the control and management of France, whose troops were staying in solid garrisons, with facilities in service of the management by the French authority then continuing exercising, on behalf of Vietnam, sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys dating back at least to the 17th century. In 1946, taking advantage of the disarmament of the Japanese troops, the Chinese government sent its troops to occupy the eastern part of the Paracels but then had to retreat when Kuomintang was driven out of the mainland to Taiwan. In 1956, taking advantage of the French withdrawal from Indochina under the Geneva Agreement, and the Vietnamese government’s failure to take over the Paracels, the People’s Republic of China sent its troops to reoccupy the eastern part of the Paracels. In 1974, upon learning that the Sai Gon government’s troops were on the verge of collapse and American expeditionary force was forced to leave South Vietnam, with tacit approval of the American about China’s freedom of action (laisser faire), the People’s Republic of China sent its troops to the western part of the Paracels to seize Sai Gon-held islands. Vietnam, as the state having sovereignty over the Paracels, opposed or publicly protested against each and every move by China. It is “the first State in history to occupy and exercising sovereignty, the occupation exercise are real, peaceful, and in conformity with international law and practices”. Ever since China has made feverish efforts to consolidate and build the Paracels into a vital military base, a springboard for its southwards movement..."

Dr. Tran Truong Thuy, COMPROMISE AND COOPERATION ON THE SEA: THE CASE OF SIGNING THE DECLARATION ON THE CONDUCT OF PARTIES IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

"...Although a binding code of conduct had been considered the primary goal, ASEAN eventually accepted a political document due to the differences among its member countries over national interests and priorities in foreign policies in general and with regard to China in particular. The DOC, therefore, was not a document to resolve territorial disputes but to create a friendly environment through confidence-building measures and cooperation activities for a long-term solution.

The DOC, however, indicated a change in China’s approach to the South China Sea dispute. Although China insisted on its sovereignty over the disputed areas and favoured bilateralism in the settlement of the issue, it was prepared to participate in multilateral mechanisms to enhance its role, maximize its profit and sow division in a possible anti-China coalition in the region. China accepted legally non-binding regulations to protect its fundamental interests.

A relatively ‘softer’ China’s policy toward the South China Sea might be resulted from certain factors, including i) ASEAN’s consensus and unity; ii) an increasing engagement from outside forces, especially the United States, in the South China Sea issue; and iii) China’s need to project a good image and promote its relations with other countries in the region..."

Dr. Yann-huei Song, THE APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 121(3) OF THE LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION TO THE FIVE SELECTED DISPUTED ISLANDS IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

"...It is hoped that this paper has successfully demonstrated the need to develop an agreeable objective test so as to remove all doubt as to which rocks would be affected by Article 121(3). In addition, before Article 121 is amended, the states in the South China Sea area might want to consider the possibility of establishing a special regional organ, such as an institutional ocean space institutions that were proposed by Malta in 1971, or conclude a regional agreement, such as a Regional Code of Conduct in the SCS that is being discussed between China and the members of ASEAN, in which the application and interpretation of Article 121(3) is clarified. The coastal states in the region are also encouraged to deal with their maritime disputes by adopting the concept of “common heritage of mankind” or by taking policy measures to preserve the marine environment through devices like the establishment of marine protected areas or marine peace park. Last but not least, as suggested by Judge Choon-ho Park 18 years ago, the coastal states neighboring the South China Sea can also learn from the Canadian and American wisdom in dealing with their disputes over the ownership of Machias Seal Island that is situated about 10 miles off the northeast coast of Maine, U.S.A..."

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