VietNamNet Bridge – The peace in the East Sea depends on the goodwill and political responsibility of related parties. The principle that is appropriate to apply in the current situation is “simple matters are solved firstly, followed by complicated ones.”
Vietnamese naval soldiers on Truong Sa Archipelago.
Dr. Tran Cong Truc, former chief of the Government Border Committee, pointed out five initiatives to deal with disputes in the East Sea, in his book entitled “Vietnam’s Hallmarks in the East Sea.”
Disputes in the East Sea are extremely complicated and are latent hazard which can cause tension, conflict and instability in the region and the world.
To basically solve the disputes, many scholars and politicians have raised valuable initiatives. Below are remarkable initiatives:
Firstly, having a common consent on the way of explanation and application of standards to define the waters and continental shelf being of sovereignty, sovereignty rights and jurisdiction of coastal countries around the East Sea.
Secondly, being unanimous in the waters and overlapped continental shelf which are formed based on coastal countries’ claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982.
Thirdly, being unanimous in the waters and continental shelf of Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, as off-shore archipelagos, not archipelagic states because islands there are very small, which are unsuitable for human life and do not have economic life.
Fourthly, having common consent on legal principles and international practice applied for defining the rights to acquire territory over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa in order to settle territorial sovereignty disputes over the two archipelagoes.
Fifthly, any claim that is inappropriate to approved standards must be considered as worthless.
The appropriate guideline for the current situation is firstly dealing with simple matters and then complicated ones.
Therefore, we should temporarily put aside territorial sovereignty disputes over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa; temporarily maintain the status quo of related parties on the two archipelagos; Each inhabited island is allowed to have territorial waters of 12 nautical miles; shoals with artificial works will have a safety area of 500m around.
Related sides have to reach agreement on the marine boundary and continental shelf under the UNCLOS to define the overlapped areas, from that clarifying marine and continental shelf frontier.
When parties do not reach consent to the final boundary, they can apply a temporary solution - joint development – in overlapped areas.
The East Sea’s peace is the common concern of all countries in the region and the world in general. It depends on the goodwill and political responsibility of related countries, both inside and outside the region.
Tran Cong Truc