|Carry Forward the Spirit of the DOC and Promote Peace and Stability|
Address by Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying at the Opening Ceremony of the Workshop in Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the DOC
(Phnom Penh, 1 November, 2012)
Your Excellency Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia,
It gives me a great pleasure to come to Phnom Penh and join colleagues from ASEAN countries at this Workshop in Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I wish to express warm congratulations on the opening of the workshop and sincere appreciation to my Cambodia colleagues for the time and efforts spent in hosting this event.
Ten years ago here in Phnom Penh, China and ASEAN countries signed a historic document that commits us to peace, stability and prosperity in the South China Sea. The DOC is an important, milestone document that has far-reaching significance on many counts.
----It establishes fundamental principles for addressing disputes in the South China Sea. It makes it clear that disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved "by peaceful means, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned". This is an important consensus reached among China and ASEAN countries.
----It lays down rules and norms for the behavior of the parties in the South China Sea. It requests that, pending the settlement of the disputes, parties concerned should take steps to build trust and confidence, promote cooperation, exercise self-constraint, and refrain from taking actions that could complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability in the South China Sea. This reflects the unique wisdom of countries in East Asia in addressing disputes and differences.
----It provides a platform for China and ASEAN countries to conduct dialogue and cooperation on the issue of the South China Sea. Over the past decade, China and ASEAN countries have had in-depth exchanges of views and worked together to step up cooperation within the framework of the DOC, which have effectively contributed to the overall stability in the South China Sea.
----It embodies the spirit of friendship, unity and cooperation, which is central to China-ASEAN friendship. It helps to cement the political trust between China and ASEAN, and has been a source of strong momentum for China and ASEAN to establish and continuously develop the strategic partnership.
A review of the whole process of negotiating, signing and implementing the DOC can help us draw some valuable experience.
First, peace and stability in the South China Sea is our shared goal. Ever since ancient times, the South China Sea has always been a bond connecting China and Southeast Asian nations through trade and mutual visits. There has not been disputes issue until the recent few decades. It is in the interest of all parties concerned to properly handle and manage differences and problems through friendly consultation, and safeguard the overall China-ASEAN relations and peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Second, dialogue and cooperation is the correct way that will lead us forward. It is the effective way to ease tensions and resolve differences, as proven by past experience. This is also where the essence of the DOC lies. There is no better way to avoid confrontation and realize common security except by engaging in persistent dialogue and going for cooperation.
Third, compliance by all parties is the key. The DOC is signed by China and all ten ASEAN countries and is equally binding to all parties. It is a common responsibility and obligation for China and ASEAN countries to follow and implement the DOC. Facts have shown that it serves the interests of China and ASEAN countries and peace and stability in the South China Sea and the region to jointly abide by and effectively implement the DOC.
Fourth, the basic principle is equal consultation. Effective principles such as consensus through consultation and accommodating the comfort level of all parties work not only within ASEAN, but also between China and ASEAN. Accommodating each other's concerns and comfort level will contribute to the sound and sustainable development of the China-ASEAN relations.
China is committed to the full and effective implementation of the DOC. We are firm in our resolve and sincere in our attitude. We are ready to work with ASEAN countries to make unremitting efforts to implementing the DOC. In this connection, I wish to make the following proposals.
One, we should take concrete measures to promote practical cooperation in the South China Sea. Maritime cooperation is an important part of China-ASEAN cooperation and the DOC. We should use the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund to carry out cooperation projects in such areas as marine scientific research and environmental protection, connectivity, navigation security and rescue, fighting transnational crimes and marine economy. This will help to turn cooperation to be the main trend in the South China Sea.
Two, we should strengthen the institutional guarantee for the implementation of the DOC. We should continue to use mechanisms such as the Senior Officials' Meeting and the Joint Working Group's Meeting for the Implementation of the DOC to make comprehensive plans for cooperation projects. We can learn from the successful experience of formulating and implementing the "Work Plan for 2012" and explore a new work plan. During the fourth Senior Officials' Meeting last January, China proposed that we establish three technical committees, namely committee on marine scientific research and environmental protection, committee on navigation security and rescue and committee on fighting maritime transnational crimes. We hope the parties can jointly work toward the early establishment of these committees.
Three, we should work toward the eventual adoption of a code of conduct in the South China Sea in a gradual way. Making effort toward the ultimate formulation of a code of conduct on the basis of consensus through consultation is an important agreement reached by China and ASEAN countries in the DOC and also represents our common wish. We want to see that all parties strictly abide by the spirits and principles of the DOC and avoid the tension of the situation on the sea. We should avoid spilling over the issue to other regional and international venues. We can continue discussions based on the principle of equal consultation so as to jointly create sound conditions and a good atmosphere for COC discussion. China is ready to keep the dialogue momentum and work toward this goal. The process itself is very important to increase understanding and trust, which is necessary for us to move forward.
I just came from a good discussion in Thailand with my ASEAN colleagues who shared my view and believe that we should properly handle the difficulties by putting things in the right perspective.
We all agreed that against the current backdrop of complex and profound changes in global and regional landscape, it is essential that China and ASEAN pull efforts together to work closer to tide over the economic difficulties and maintain stable growth in the region.
The DOC is a valuable asset for China and ASEAN countries and it deserves to be cherished by us. We hope all parties will use the tenth anniversary of the signing of the DOC as a rare opportunity to further enhance mutual trust, promote cooperation, jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea so as to advance lasting peace and prosperity in Asia and serve the people of all countries.
Finally, I wish the workshop a full success.