On July 25, 2022, the Workshop on Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) was successfully held in Beijing. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made video remarks at the opening ceremony, which was chaired by Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao. Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, and Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Myanmar U Chan Aye attended and addressed the opening ceremony through recorded messages or via video link. Vice-chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress Fu Ying attended the workshop and chaired the discussions on relevant topics. Secretary of the CPC Committee of Wuhan University Han Jin delivered a closing speech. More than 100 people attended the workshop in an online and offline format. They included former Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, former Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad, former Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Duy Nien and many other signatories and witnesses of the DOC from ASEAN countries, senior officials in charge of the implementation of the DOC and heads of the Joint Working Group on the DOC, diplomatic envoys or representatives of the ten ASEAN countries to China, representatives of maritime departments of various countries, and experts and scholars.
Wang Yi said, as the first political document signed by China and ASEAN countries on the South China Sea, the DOC has established the basic principles and common norms for the parties to handle the relevant issue. Acting in compliance with the DOC over the past two decades, we have jointly maintained peace and stability and ensured freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea. The DOC has been a platform for our active maritime dialogue and cooperation, leading to early harvests in many fields. The DOC has also been a framework enabling us to consolidate political mutual trust and build vibrant relations.
Wang Yi said, the successful signing and implementation of the DOC gives us important inspirations. First, peace and stability in the South China Sea is an important precondition for regional development. Stability in the South China Sea benefits regional countries, while instability incurs misfortune. Second, countries in the region are the ones who have the final say on properly handling the South China Sea issue. China and ASEAN countries have creatively proposed and advanced a dual-track approach, which has not only been effective in managing the maritime situation and maintaining overall stability in the South China Sea, but has also laid a sound foundation for the joint protection, development and exploitation of the South China Sea. Third, the East Asian way is an effective means to build and uphold consensus. China and ASEAN countries always follow the Asian tradition of respecting each other and honoring our words. We reject zero-sum games, and advocate the positive-sum approach of win-win cooperation. All this has demonstrated the precious value and great vitality of the DOC.
Wang Yi said, the world today is in a new period of turbulence and transformation. And the South China Sea is not tranquil, either. In an attempt to preserve their hegemony, certain countries outside the region keep intensifying their power projection in this region, and deliberately seek to widen differences and provoke tensions, undermining the legitimate rights and interests of coastal countries and the normal order at sea. In face of this, China and ASEAN countries need to make our position clear: we welcome those who come here for peace and cooperation, but we ask those to leave who come here to make troubles.
Wang Yi stressed, in the new historical context, we must continue to firmly uphold the purposes and principles of the DOC, unswervingly observe the norms and propositions laid out therein, and keep the initiative of resolving the South China Sea issue in the hands of regional countries. First, we should continue to hold the bottom line of peace. Second, we should continue to promote dialogue and consultation. Third, we should continue to deepen maritime cooperation. Fourth, we should continue to advance the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) negotiations. China will work together with ASEAN countries to be a defender of maritime peace, builder of maritime order, advocate of maritime cooperation, and contributor to maritime development.
Hor Namhong said, the signing of DOC is a historic achievement. Over the past 20 years, thanks to the full implementation of the DOC, there haven't been serious conflicts in the South China Sea and the region, enabling all parties to conduct cooperation in marine environmental protection, scientific research, navigation safety, combating transnational crimes and other fields. Southeast Asia and China have become the fastest-growing regions in the world. Disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved through consultation and negotiation between the parties directly concerned. Non-regional powers should not interfere in the situation in the South China Sea, let alone incite conflicts and undermine peace.
Saifuddin said, the DOC is an important document of milestone significance, and a major measure taken by ASEAN countries and China to build trust and maintain regional peace and stability. The South China Sea issue must be handled peacefully and rationally through dialogue and consultation. ASEAN countries and China should continue to fully and effectively implement the DOC and reach an effective and substantive COC at an early date.
The guests participating in the workshop held in-depth discussions on three topics, namely the conclusion and signing of the DOC, the effectiveness of and outlook for the implementation of the DOC, and the progress in and prospect of the consultation on the COC. All participants spoke highly of the value and significance of the DOC, fully recognized the positive outcomes and important role of the DOC in managing and controlling disputes, enhancing mutual trust and promoting cooperation, and called for speeding up the consultation on the COC, so as to jointly make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
A short video commemorating the signing and implementation of the DOC was played at the workshop.
The workshop was organized by the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Foreign Ministry with the assistance of Wuhan University China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies and the National Institute for the South China Sea Studies.