Sixth CSIS East Sea conference held in Washington DC

The sixth annual CSIS East Sea (South China Sea) conference took place in Washington D.C., the US, on July 12, shortly after The Hague tribunal ruled on the case brought by the Philippines against China’s unfounded sovereignty claims in the waters.

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Chinese vessels illegally conduct reclamation at Chu Thap (Fiery Cross) Reef of Vietnam's Truong Sa archipelago (Photo: EPA)

The one-day event was held at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) headquarters by the CSIS Southeast Asia Programme and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. 

Panels discussed recent developments, relevant legal and military issues, the wider geo-strategic implications for the region, and environmental costs of recent military developments on the ecosystem of the East Sea. 

The conference attracted great public attention as it came hours after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), based in The Hague (the Netherlands), issued the ruling on the case filed by the Philippines against China's territorial claims in the East Sea. 

The tribunal stated that China’s claims to historic rights over waters within the so-called nine-dash line are contrary to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

The country also has no historic title over waters of the South China Sea, and has no legal basis to claim historic rights to resources within the nine-dash line, the PCA said. 

In the keynote speech at the conference, Senator Dan Sullivan welcomed the PCA’s ruling, describing it as both an opportunity and a challenge to all parties involved in disputes in the East Sea. He urged China to act as a responsible member of the international community by respecting the tribunal’s ruling. 

The sixth CSIS East Sea conference attracted specialists and senior officials from the US, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, China, Taiwan (China), Australia, and Malaysia. Nguyen Vu Tung, acting Director of the Diplomatic Academy Vietnam, and Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Pham Quang Vinh attended the event. 

Other participants included Daniel Kritenbrink – Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the US’s National Security Council, Henry Bensurto – Philippine Consul General in San Francisco, Erik Franckx – PCA Member and President of the Department of International and European Law at Brussels-based Vrije University , and Emeritus Professor Carlyle Thayer at the Australian Defence Force Academy.


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