Contributing to " East-Sea on academic process"

Monday - 15/12/2014 05:16
In mid-October, the international conference on "Disputes in the Vietnam East Sea: impact and approaches to peace and cooperation" with the participation of more than 50 Vietnamese and foreign scientists was held at USSH. Assoc. Prof.Dr. Pham Quang Minh (Vice Rector) talked about the outstanding results of the conference.

- Assoc.Professor, is this international conference by USSH anything different from those on the East Sea that had been held previously?

This conference was held after China had to withdraw its Haiyang 981 oil rig before deadline from Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and when ASEAN was determined to accomplish the goal of building the ASEAN Community in 2015. In addition, it was also at the time when the Government of Vietnam consistently advocated peaceful settlements on the basis of respect for international law, the Declaration on the conduct of Parties and actively negotiated a Code of Conduct in the East Sea.

The conference was attended by scholars from countries in the region and beyond such as Germany, Indonesia, Japan, the US and the Philippines; it was representative and had multi-dimensional voices.

- The main theme of this conference was "Impact and approaches towards peace and cooperation", can you say more about this topic and the objectives of the organizing committee?

This is the basic difference of a conference on the East Sea. China’s setting up of Hai Yang oil rig 981 in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone from May to June 2014 was a dangerous act, violating the UN Charter and international laws, not only directly threatening Vietnam's sovereignty, but also affecting regional and global peace and security. Thus, the conference aimed not only to clarify the causes, motives and impact of Hai Yang oil rig 981, but also conduct a comprehensive evaluation of China's long-term strategies and motivations in the East Sea, and the implications for peace and cooperation in the entire region.

To that end, the conference was divided into five cohesive and complementary sessions. First of all, the East Sea issue has to be put in the context of strategic competition between the US and China as an important factor affecting the present and future regional security architecture. Next, the conference discussed the legal aspects as key to solving territorial disputes in the East Sea fundamentally, peacefully and civilizedly. Next, the conference also addressed the disputes through sharing experiences in the peaceful settlement of conflicts in other areas such as Europe and Japan. Finally, the conference discussed frankly and openly the role of ASEAN in solving disputes in the East Sea, emphasizing its key role as an indispensable factor in the context of influence competition among the major powers and without a regional effective mechanism for conflict resolution.

- What are the most significant results obtained through discussions at the conference?

The conference took place in an atmosphere of frank and open exchanges to build a network to share information and research findings in the future, helping the parties understand each other's viewpoints.

The conference adds a second-channel diplomatic voice - the voice of academia - an indispensable channel of modern diplomacy widely recognized throughout the world. Approaching from an academic perspective will contribute practically to protecting the sovereignty of Vietnam as well as regional peace and security. Common grounds were shared by the papers about complex and overlapping long-term territorial claims over the East Sea, therefore solutions have to be comprehensive, persistent, flexible, combining political, diplomatic and legal aspects.

- How were the comments received at the conference on the current Vietnam East Sea's disputes?

The world today has become more interdependent than ever before, and this forces all nations to consider very carefully before making any decisions. From this assessment, it can be difficult for a war or an armed conflict to happen in the region. However, scholars also said China would gradually carry out "coercive tactics” through civil forces backed by military forces to bolster its control over the disputed waters. To deal with this tactic, other countries should actively implement diplomacy, promote defense cooperation and enhance capacity building.

- As a leading center for training and research, what concerns does the university have and will have about the issues related to the East Sea in particular and the territorial sovereignty in general?

As a Vietnam's leading center for training and research, the University has produced many studies of maritime sovereignty, the foreign policies of major countries and ASEAN cooperation. This is one of many conferences on the East Sea held by the University and participated by Vietnamese and international scholars. "East-Sea on academic process", strengthening international cooperation in promote East Sea studies, thereby raising the awareness and understanding  of maritime sovereignty and peaceful resolutions on the basis of international law, will be the University's one of the most important directions in the future.

- Thanks Assoc. Professor.

Author: Thanh Ha

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