Peaceful South China Sea benefits all

Updated: 2011-07-25 07:52

By Tan Ya (China Daily)

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Frictions over the South China Sea between China and some members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) have caught the world's attention. How will China and the ASEAN members solve the issue? Will they still be good friends, neighbors and partners?

In a recent interview, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan emphasized that both ASEAN and China have achieved a "sense of common urgency" and they can and will manage their differences over the South China Sea peacefully. His words represent the views of most ASEAN members.

This year is the 20th anniversary of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN. However, diplomatic relations between China and most ASEAN members stretch back much longer than 20 years, and together they have gone through trials and tribulations, built strategic partnerships and established mutually beneficial economic, political and cultural ties.

Although there have been some divergences and setbacks between China and some ASEAN members in the past, they have all been properly solved through negotiations with mutual understanding and mutual accommodation. History shows such an approach is effective in resolving differences, while internationalizing and regionalizing frictions only complicates issues.

Neither China nor ASEAN members are happy to see the deterioration of the stable and friendly regional situation. To solve the South China Sea issue needs peace and cooperation, instead of confrontation. A stable, peaceful and cooperative South China Sea benefits all. This is the unswerving principle of China as well as the common wish of ASEAN members.

The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and ASEAN members in 2002 is an important political document representing the political will of all sides to maintain the stability of the South China Sea and boost mutual trust and cooperation. Although the joint effort by China and ASEAN members to implement the DOC agreement has met some problems, all sides are still striving to build consensus and reduce differences and move in the same direction. We are happy to see that progress has been made in implementing the DOC by China and ASEAN.

The key to the successful implementation of the DOC agreement is pragmatic cooperation. Only through progressive cooperation can mutual trust and a win-win solution be secured that will benefit all sides.

The South China Sea provides huge room for cooperation. In the DOC framework, China and ASEAN members have reached a wide consensus on marine research, environmental protection, maritime search and rescue and navigational safety. Putting these programs into practice will provide benefits for all.

As Surin Pitsuwan put it, the stability of East Asia is of great significance in maintaining global economic prosperity, peace and security. Safeguarding the stability of the South China Sea will benefit all sides. Constant efforts to implement the DOC will prove China and ASEAN members are capable of resolving their differences peacefully and can maintain regional harmony and stability.

China and ASEAN nations reached important consensuses in Bali on July 20 on implementing the DOC, laying a solid foundation for practical cooperation in this area. Next year is the 10th anniversary of the DOC and we firmly believe in a bright future for the region with the DOC as a solid guarantee for peace and stability.

The author is a Beijing-based scholar of international relations.

(China Daily 07/25/2011 page8)


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