More agreements needed to avert East Sea's conflicts: experts

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More agreements between related parties are needed to prevent conflicts in the East Sea, experts said at an international conference recently organized in Hanoi.

According to a report published in Saigon Tiep Thi early this week, at the third international conference on the East Sea, Professor Leszek Buszynski from Australian National University said ASEAN and China need to sign a pact that regulates incidents at sea, oil exploitation and disputes over fishing.

The event was held by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and Vietnam Lawyers Association on November 4-5 with the participation of 180 experts from 20 countries.

Such agreement also needs to include rules on negotiations and resolutions, as well as procedures for solving clashes between fishing boats and naval forces, Buszynski added.

On the other hand, the same agreement between the US, China and outsiders such as India is needed as well, to regulate activities that China has claimed as "threatening," the Australian expert said. He noted that an agreement would also help to preserve the rule of the freedom of sea transport in the East Sea.

According to Buszynski, threats of conflicts are increasing in the East Sea, as viewpoints on issues have polarized.

S.D Pradhan, India's former deputy national security adviser, agreed with Buszynski. He said a mechanism for managing conflicts will guarantee that unwanted incidents won't occur due to miscalculations, the newspaper reported.

Pradhan said related parties in the East Sea need to accept several basic conditions, including prohibition on using force or threatening to use force, not sending ships, planes and submarines  into other countries' sovereignty waters, and not interfering with other countries' exploration works and economic activities.

In the meantime, several experts raised concerns about the essence of the recently signed instructions on rules for conducting the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the East Sea, the newspaper reported.

Professor Renato Cruz De Casto from the Philippine-owned De La Salle University said the instructions signed between China and ASEAN in Bali, Indonesia in July contain "vague words."

As part of the DOC, the agreed rules can't stand alone and have to include terms related to dispute management or resolution, according to Casto.

Carlyle A. Thayer, a Southeast Asia regional specialist from the University of New South Wales, also pointed out that the DOC instructions aren't capable enough to solve security tensions that have emerged from East Sea's disputes.

Also at the conference, Evgeny Kanaev, an expert from the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies under the Moscow-based Institute of World Economy and International Relations, highlighted the role of Russia, saying that the presence of Russia at the East Asia Summit will help to stabilize the region's situation.

He said in the future political and security issues will account for most of the agenda at the annual summit, and that given the increasing interest in conflicts between the US and China, Russia and ASEAN will probably become a counterpart in creating an "active balance."

The similar interests between Russia and ASEAN will perhaps improve their cooperation at the summits with geometric influences on the East Sea's situation, according to Kanaev.

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