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Virtual Symposium on the South China Sea: from the Perspective of Cooperation held by MFA China and NISCSS

2020-09-03 20:59:23       source:NISCSS

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the National Institute for South China Sea Studies jointly held the track 1.5 virtual symposium themed “The South China Sea: From the Perspective of Cooperation” On 2nd September 2020. Over 160 participants, including former politicians, officials, and scholars from China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, as well as countries beyond the region as Australia, Russia, the United Kingdom, among others, attended the virtual symposium.


A written speech of H.E. Mr. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs was delivered at the symposium. H.E. Mr.Luo Zhaohui, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs attended the opening ceremony and delivered a keynote speech themed "Jointly Safeguarding Peace, Stability and Development in the South China Sea with Dialogue, Consultation and Win-Win Cooperation". The opening ceremony was hosted by Mr. Jia Guide, Director General of the Department of Treaty and Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Wu Shicun, President of NISCSS, H.E. Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, Chairman of the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC), Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and Mr. Yusuf Wanandi, Senior Fellow and Co-founder of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Indonesia, delivered speeches.


H.E. Mr. Wang Yi pointed out that China and ASEAN countries are in a natural community of shared future in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea. We should face and resolve challenges together. Over the years, China and ASEAN countries have been upholding the "dual-track" approach and developed a set of effective practices, which we should keep carrying forward. The disputes of the South China Sea should be settled through negotiation and consultation between countries directly concerned, who should also accelerate the consultation of COC in the South China Sea and adhere to the idea of joint development while shelving the disputes. China is ready to work with the other littoral countries to strive for substantive progress in joint development of South China Sea and greater benefits for the coastal states and peoples.

H.E. Mr. Luo Zhaohui stressed that the South China Sea issue has a complex history. China believes in settling the disputes through negotiation and consultation, and managing differences through dialogue and cooperation. We should implement the DOC and speed up the consultation on COC. They should be the rules and regulations abide by China and ASEAN countries. Intervention from countries beyond the region is the source of risks in the South China Sea. Neither China nor ASEAN wants to turn the sea into an arena for power. A sea of peace, friendship and cooperation serve the common interests of the countries and peoples in the region.


President Wu Shicun delivered a speech entitled " DOC Implementation and Cooperation at the South China Sea". He reviewed some encouraging progress and outcomes in China-ASEAN cooperation since the signing of the DOC. He also analyzed the current difficulties in implementing the DOC, and put forward suggestions on promoting maritime cooperation. He suggested that China and ASEAN should push forward COC negotiations while implementing DOC. The countries in the region should learn from successful experience from the Mediterranean and other regions, explore and form a viable way that meets the actual needs of the region. A list of cooperation tasks should be formulated in accordance with the five major areas identified in the DOC, namely marine environmental protection, maritime scientific research, navigation safety, search and rescue, and crackdown on transnational crimes. In this consensus and outcome oriented way, we can deepen maritime cooperation in the South China Sea. 

H.E. Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai emphasized that the region and countries outside the region should depoliticize South China Sea disputes. He also proposed to advance cooperation, speed up the conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, and establish an Eminent Persons and Experts Group to provide proposals on South China Sea cooperation.

Mr. Yusuf Wanandi emphasized the importance of trust and confidence to peace and development in the South China Sea, and proposed three areas of cooperation, including fisheries management, maritime safety, and environmental protection in accordance with relevant provisions of UNCLOS. He also highlighted the role of institutionalized platforms such as the “China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund” and the “China-Southeast Asia South China Sea Research Center” in promoting cooperation in the South China Sea.

The Chair of the Symposium, Mr. Jia Guide concluded that, we all want peace and stability in the South China Sea; negotiation and consultation are the viable way to resolve the South China Sea issue; rules-making and mutually beneficial cooperation are the overriding trend. The South China Sea issue is complex. The best solution often comes from negotiation and consultation by countries directly concerned. The panelists have proposed different solutions. But they all underlined cooperation as a way to facilitate dispute settlement. Faced with new situation and challenges, regional countries should remove all external disturbance and conclude the COC as soon as possible. At the same time, regional countries need to step up and find new areas and new forms of cooperation, giving fresh impetus to the development in the South China Sea region.