Cambodia On March 22 hosted the international conference on “ASEAN and 10th anniversary of Declaration of Conduct” on the South China Sea as the country chair ASEAN this year.
The report from conference noted: The South China Sea issue remains high on security agenda between ASEAN and China since 1999. At the forum, H.E. Cheam Yeap, a Cambodian lawmaker from ruling Cambodian people party and a speaker said: “Cambodia will follow the neutral policy for the South China Sea region as it stated already.” “Cambodia will not put the issues of the south china sea on the agenda of the ASEAN summit,” he noted.
it has been 10 years since the signing of the declaration of the conduct of parties in the south china sea ( DoC) here in Phnom Penh ( 2002- 2012). “One of the efforts committed by Cambodian as a chair of asean this year is to encourage all parties concerned over the South China Sea to fully implement the DoC,” The report said, adding that “Cambodia needs to demonstration and proves its responsibility in facilitating dialogues and discussions on the issue for the sake of peace, cooperation and development.”
Dr. Vo Xuan Vin, a research fellow at Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, Hanoi said at the conference: The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by ASEAN member States and the People’s Republic of China in 2002 was expected to become a framework for maintaining and fostering peace and stability in the South China Sea. “Recent developments in South China Sea, however, clearly demonstrated that the DOC, a non-binding document, has limitations in preventing tensions and skirmishes in the region.”
In that context, the realization of a Code of Conduct (COC) for maintaining and promoting peace and stability in South China Sea has become an “urgent demand not only for claimant states and littoral countries but also for countries having interests through their direct and indirect trade activities in Asia-Pacific region” due to the fact that, today about 40% of the world trade passes though the Straits of Malacca which connects the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean on 50,000 vessels that ply its waters every year. “It is urgently necessary to adopt a Code of Conduct, a legally binding agreement for a better legal environment, so as to secure peace, stability, mutual trust and cooperation in the region.”
“A peaceful, stable and friendly South China Sea will importantly contribute to the security cooperation and economic development of not only claimants but also countries in Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.” Dr Vo added.
The experts noted that the ASEAN is not unity on issues of South China Sea but they urged all claimants to follow the Code of conducts (CoC) on South China Sea as well as of the 1982 United Nations convention on Law of sea (UNCLOS) and UN charter.
Dr. Kao Kim Hour, former head of Cambodian institute of international cooperation personally said: ASEAN countries work on negotiation and diplomatic ways, cooperation and consensus policy. The report from event said: the area’s importance largely results from one-third of the world’s shipping transiting through its waters, and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed amounting to 17.7 billion tons.
The experts also discussed about the build-up of military powers from China, U.S. and India in the region. The claimants of that area included China, Brunei, Malaysia, and Philippines. Cambodia repeatedly said: the claimants of the South China Sea should not internationalize issues.