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This paper focuses on Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea in 2009. According to official policy, China promotes ‘peace, cooperation and development’ in the Asia-Pacific under the new doctrine of creating a ‘harmonious world’. China has therefore given priority to the primacy of economic growth and a peaceful international environment. China’s phenomenal economic growth has been driven by export-orientated trade. China’s economic growth has also fueled a rising demand for resources and energy. These two factors have combined to heighten the importance, from a Chinese perspective, of ensuring that vital Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) remain safe and secure.

"...The proposal outlined in this paper is modest and practical and in view of the current deadlock in the South China Sea.  Ambitious proposals that call for wide sweeping agreements on a legal or political basis cannot make any headway in this dispute while the claimants insist on their sovereign claims.  The stalemate may suit governments which are interested in demonstrating effective occupation of islands to support their legal claims, but it will not allow them to exploit energy resources without stimulating tensions and conflict.  The positive incentive of maritime energy cooperation and all its benefits is required to move beyond the stalemate. This means building on existing efforts to exploit the resources of the area which have been undertaken by claimants separately and in their own claim zones.  The extension of these efforts within a multilateral framework which could be coordinated by ASEAN is not impossible though it would demand a major change in ASEAN’s attitude towards the issue.  ASEAN’s passivity towards the range of problems and issues it now faces is a barrier to its future development and it should take the initiative over an issue of vital importance to its future.  ASEAN has the status to promote this this proposal and by doing so it would strengthen its role in the Asia Pacific region"

"...In the short and medium term, a major armed conflict leading to the confrontation between China and the ASEAN seems unlikely although risks exist of military clashes. In the longer run, however, the sea disputes could become a major military threat to China, the ASEAN countries and the other parties concerned if these countries continue the armed race. As oil prices have risen substantially over recent years, the strategic environment in the South China Sea would see complicated and unpredictable developments. Whether the strategic environment would change for the better or worse depends on the regional and global geo-politics and the status of China-ASEAN relations. There are many reasons for us to be more optimistic when examining the conflicts and measure to resolve them.

It is possible that in a near future, the claimants to the South China Sea would not be able to resolve sovereignty, a complicated and sensitive problem considered sacred and very important. However, we can expect a moderate solution from the parties involved on joint exploration and development in these disputed territories."
"...
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..."

Prof. Carlyle A. Thayer, RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA: IMPLICATIONS FOR PEACE, STABILITY AND COOPERATION IN THE REGION

All regional states have an interest in China’s rise and the peaceful management of China-United States relations. All regional states and regional multilateral institutions related to security should therefore continue to bring their diplomatic influence to bear on China and the United States to resolve their differences through dialogue and confidence-building measures. The two powers should hold regular high-level military-to-military meetings and work out an effective Incidents at Sea Agreement.

The ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus) ADMM Plus) should be activated to extend the ASEAN Regional Forum’s effective engagement in addressing security issues. This would be an effective forum to adopt agreed principles on military transparency that would address concerns about China’s military transformation and modernization programs.

China and other nuclear states should become signatories to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Free Weapons Zone Treaty. China has long indicated it would be a signatory. But deployment of SSBNs to Sanya Naval Base raises questions about the geographic scope of Southeast Asia that need to be clarified.

Under the DOC, if China has concerns about the viability of fish stocks in the South China Sea is should seek to engage the other claimants (Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei) in joint scientific research on fisheries management. China should refrain from unilaterally declaring and enforcing a ban on fishing in the South China Sea until a scientific basis for its actions are established. In 2009, while China was enforcing its moratorium on fishing by chasing Vietnamese boats out of the area, Taiwan was complaining that Chinese fishermen were encroaching on its waters. If there is a scientific basis for halting fishing for a period of time it should apply to all nations..."
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