|CPG Director Henning Glaser delivers an opening remark at the seminar
Organised by the German - Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG) under the Thai Thammasat University, the seminar gathered scholars, political experts, diplomats and policy-makers in Thailand and other countries, such as the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam.
In his speech opening the seminar, CPG Director Henning Glaser presented an overview on security challenges facing the Asia - Pacific, saying the East Sea issue is the biggest challenge with far-reaching implications on peace as well as the security and safety of navigation and overflight in the region.
He noted that the region’s security environment contains various risks due to the rising trend of arms races, acute territorial disputes and disrespect for international law.
These risks need to be countered using peaceful measures, based on the common benefits of all countries and international law, Henning Glaser stressed.
The event featured 8 sessions with 10 presentations, focusing on defence strategies of powers in the region as well as the impacts of regional hotbeds of conflict, such as the East Sea and East Asia.
Other topics of discussion included the stances of the United States, Japan and India regarding regional security issues, particularly the East Sea issue after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, the Netherlands, rejected China’s claim on the waters.
Participants also shared their views on cooperation within the ASEAN and between the bloc and the world powers, the US policy on the Asia Pacific under Donald Trump’s administration and its influence on the East Sea issue.
Sharing the view that the East Sea issue is the biggest challenge for peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, Professor Klaus Larres from the US’s Institute for Advanced Study said the PCA ruling has changed the situation in the East Sea.
He expressed his concern over China’s rejection of the ruling and increasing militarization in the waters, and stressed that regional peace can only be achieved through active cooperation of countries involved.
Major General Ashok Hukku, former Chief Military Intelligence Advisor at the Cabinet Secretariat of India, took note of the strategic and economic values of the East Sea area and the freedom of navigation and overflight as well as trade on the waters.
He said India is implementing its “Act East Policy”, boosting cooperation with related countries to contribute to enhancing peace and security in Asia Pacific on the basis of international law and commitments.
Dr Nguyen Toan Thang from the Hanoi Law University said the East Sea issue is one of the most complicated problems in international relations, and Vietnam, as a nation with related rights and interests on the waters, has combined diplomatic and legal measures to protect its interests in the waters.
Thang stated that Vietnam has sovereignty right and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East Sea and it requests other countries respect the EEZ in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Vietnam’s stance is concerned sides should settle disputes in the East Sea by peaceful measures and in line with international law, including the UNCLOS.
He called on sides involved to restrain themselves, not to use force or threat to use force, and not to take unilateral actions or militarization to deal with such disputes.
Thang urged concerned sides to respect the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the East Sea and refrain from actions that complicate the East Sea issue.
China and ASEAN should try to early achieve a Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea, he said, calling on all countries to make contributions to maintaining peace, stability and law on the sea and oceans.
The recommendations and suggestions of participants will be sent to international political research institutes and centres.-