“Vietnam has the potential to be one of the leading countries of ASEAN”

Dịch từ Báo Lao Động, số 130/ 2013

“Việt Nam có tiềm năng là một trong những nước dẫn dắt hàng đầu của ASEAN”

“Vietnam has the potential to be one of the leading countries of ASEAN”

Mr. Carl W. Baker, program Director of Pacific Forum in Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), stated that the active participation in important regional and global forums is an advantage / “plus point” for Vietnam.

What do you think about Vietnam’s contributions to important regional and global forums such as Shangri-La Dialogue, East Asia Economic Forum and most recently, the CSIS South China Sea conference, in the United State?

I believe that Vietnam has shown a firm / consistent / steadfast commitment when emphasizing the importance of multilateral approaching method in its foreign policy. In my opinion, by participating actively / with the active participation in important regional and global forums, Vietnam has demonstrated consistent commitment to ASEAN and to the value/merit of collective actions / team action / collective responses to tackle problems facing whole South East Asia (as a whole). This stance / steadfast view point also proves Vietnam has the potential to emerge as one of the leading countries in ASEAN. In addition, Vietnam needs to be encouraged to continue to work towards/ pursue unified economic and security solutions through multilateral organizations and forums in ASEAN.

Besides, I also want to mention Vietnam’s plus point at the recent Shangri-La dialogue as PM Nguyen Tan Dung has delivered a clear and careful / clear-cut and cautious / carefully-worded speech which has exactly shown Vietnam’s pledge to seek cooperative / collaborative solutions to security concerns. (represented exactly the commitment of Vietnam). By emphasizing the necessity / need for each country to become a responsible member in the defense of international law, PM Nguyen Tam Dung has demonstrated clearly Vietnam’s commitment to build peaceful solutions to conflicts.

While China has always affirmed to resolve conflicts by peaceful means, the public is increasingly suspicious of /skeptical about this “peaceful commitment” as Chinese paramilitary ships/ vessels has created continuously pressure on neighboring countries in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. What do you think of this problem? / What is your assessment of this matter?

Regarding China’s moves in the SCS and the East China Sea, I consider them short-sighted actions as it tries to claim sovereignty over the SCS with the so-call “Nine-dash line” for its own benefits. This is the reason why most countries in the world are unanimous that it is necessary to emphasize articles / provisions in UNCLOS related to coastal countries’ benefits. (littoral nations quốc gia duyên hải). The more China unilaterally claims its sovereignty /make unilateral sovereign clams regardless of / without regarding/  mindless of / without being mindful of international community’s will in UNCLOS, the more difficulties the country will encounter in affirming its 5 principles of peaceful coexistence. This also makes it difficult for other countries to seek win-win solutions in the region.

So what should Vietnam and other countries do?

Vietnam and Southeast Asian countries should build trust / confidence within ASEAN in the importance of maintaining a unified stance. The best way to do this/ to achieve this target is to deal with intra-ASEAN problems/to solve problems among ASEAN members before taking stance towards China / giving consistent view point toward China. Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia all have competing/ different claims on SCS, making easier for China to claim its sovereignty. If ASEAN can agree on a common approach, not necessarily towards dealing with territorial disputes but towards cooperating in resources exploitation and maritime rights in conflict areas, it will be advantaged to establish a strong negotiation position to deal with Chinese assertive actions.

From your point of view, what roles does international law play in the conflict resolution/ dispute settlement in the South China Sea? What are the main causes of conflicts in the SCS?

UNCLOS (United Nation Convention on Law of the Sea) has a crucial role to play in the conflict resolution in SCS. I am not telling that it is a necessary conflict resolution mechanism but it orients the solutions which can be accepted by all parties. Moreover, I believe that the Philippines have taken an effective / a useful step when suing against China/ bringing the dispute with China before the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration). The suing dossier/ file in which the Philippines requested the PCA to examine the legality of China’s “Nine dash line” has given the Philippine a chance to make clear before court its explanation of the boundary line based on UNCLOS. (an opportunity to clarify its own interpretation on its maritime frontier). I believe that the sovereignty claims in the SCS is increasingly important because of these reasons: UNCLOS requires the determination of coastal baseline and related / concerning exclusive economic zone (EEZ); competitiveness in fisheries resources and natural resources / marine minerals are increasing; patrol capacity / capabilities of all countries involving in the disputed areas are growing and those laying claims are unable to address their differences.

What is the possible solution to deal with dispute in the SCS?

In my opinion, all parties concerned should accept that there will be no only/ unique solution to the problem of territorial disputes. They have to start looking for a possible way to minimize the unwanted risks of confrontation, such as developing codes of conduct, focusing on the conflict resolution mechanism, actively joining hands to determine which areas are not in dispute, ultimately finding solutions to exploit the resources together in the region. I understand that there is no easy solution / simple measure, but in my opinion, it is the best way to resolve disputes in the SCS (East Sea) in present situation


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