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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     5 November  2011

East Sea remains calm

Efforts have been made to keep the East Sea "basically peaceful and stable," although the threat of "open conflict" seemed apparent over the past year, said president of the Viet Nam Diplomatic Academy Dang Dinh Quy at an international event in Hanoi this morning.

"At times, regional and international communities had to hold their breath," he said at the opening session of the workshop entitled "The East Sea: Co-operation for Regional Security and Development."

Tensions rose when Viet Nam accused Chinese fishing boats of damaging cables from an oil exploration vessel inside its exclusive economic zone last May.

But issues on the regional, long been known as "one of the most complicated hotspots in the world," had been discussed in a constructive way, the Vietnamese diplomat said.

According to him, "numerous efforts to prevent confrontations and foster co-operation" have been made, including an agreement on implementation guidelines for the Declaration on the Conduct of parties in the East Sea (DOC) between Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) and China. This deal was brokered to diminish the threat of war or military clashes.

There have also been many diplomatic endeavors between states directly involved in the disputes, particularly between Viet Nam, the Philippines and China. Regional meetings have also been held on the issue.

According to Professor Geoffrey Till from King's College London, the issues are being increasingly regarded as a global concern.
Dr. Bronson Percival, a visiting fellow at the East-West Centre in Washington said that the East Sea would "remain a significant foreign policy issue for the United States for the foreseeable future."

Professor SU Hao and Dr Ren Yuan-zhe from China Foreign Affairs University said the international community should have a clear picture of historical facts and international law, and understand the claims and standpoints of China and other claimant countries to address the issues.

The East Sea is seen as a lifeline for all countries in the region because up to 85 percent of energy sources for East Asian nations, including China, Japan and South Korea, come from or through Southeast Asia.

The dispute involves the maritime-borders of six parties: China, Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

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