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Home TT dữ liệu Biển Đông Dr. Mark J. Valencia, WHITHER THE SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTES?
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NameDr. Mark J. Valencia, WHITHER THE SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTES?
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Dr. Mark J. Valencia, Maritime Policy Analyst, Kaneohe, Hawaii

"The political environment in the South China Sea seems to have come a long way from the 1980’s and 1990’s when it was a locus of confrontation and conflict.  Indeed, the China-Vietnam clash of 1988 in which about 70 Vietnamese died, and China’s 1995 occupation and building of structures on the Philippines-claimed Mischief Reef seem like relics of a previous era.  Conflict has given way to co-operation in which China, Vietnam and the Philippines have undertaken co-operative seismic surveys in an agreed area.  But are these advances fundamental and durable – or fragile and temporary?  This brief examines recent developments in this context and suggests steps forward.

In 2002, ASEAN and China signed a Declaration on Conduct in which they promised “to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means without resorting to the threat or use of force” and “to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability”. And China, Vietnam and the Philippines have agreed on a web of bilateral codes of conduct.  All claimants have also agreed to move towards a more formal and legally-binding multilateral Code of Conduct --- but its realization remains out of reach and the declaration has been violated numerous times by several parties thereto.  Indeed, the down-side is that no progress has been made for seven years.  The “soft” nature of the declaration which enabled its acceptance in the first place – it is not a legally binding document – makes it difficult even to raise the issue, let alone exert pressure on fellow signatories to move towards implementation.  Moreover China has now made a proposal which has deadlocked the process --- that there be two prior meetings before an ASEAN –China meeting – one among the four ASEAN claimants (Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam), and one between all of ASEAN.  China remains opposed to internationalization or regionalization of the dispute and would like to prevent or weaken ASEAN solidarity on these issues and continue to address them on a bilateral basis..."

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Created On: 11/26/2009 09:38
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