Remarks by Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin At the Opening Ceremony of the Workshop On "Implementing DOC: Maintaining Freedom and Safety Of Navigation in the South China Sea"
(Haikou, 14 December 2011)
Your Excellency Director-General Djauhari Oratmangun,
First, on behalf of the Chinese government and in my own name, I wish to warmly welcome you all to the picturesque city of Haikou for this workshop on "Implementing DOC: Maintaining Freedom and Safety of Navigation in the South China Sea". Haikou is the capital of Hainan Province, China's southernmost province and the closest province to the South China Sea. It is of special significance for us to be gathered here and jointly explore effective implementation of the DOC and strengthen practical cooperation on navigation safety in the South China Sea.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations. The past 20 years have seen continued enhancement of political mutual trust and deepening of practical cooperation between the two sides. This has not only promoted our respective economic and social development, but also contributed to peace, stability and prosperity in the region. At the recent Commemorative Summit to Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, our two sides put forward important plans and vision for the development of our strategic partnership.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and strengthening dialogue and cooperation serves the common interests of the region. China and the ASEAN countries signed the DOC in 2002 to increase mutual trust, promote cooperation, and create enabling conditions and a sound atmosphere for settling the disputes through negotiations directly between the parties. This year has witnessed positive progress and significant achievement in the implementation of the DOC. In July, China and the ASEAN countries adopted the Guidelines for the Implementation of the DOC, which paved the way for advancing practical cooperation in the South China Sea. At the just concluded East Asian leaders' meetings, Premier Wen Jiabao announced that China would set up a China-ASEAN maritime cooperation fund with the funding of three-billion-yuan. At the moment, China is stepping up coordination with the ASEAN countries to implement a number of projects within the framework of the DOC. A couple of days ago, the Workshop on the Regional Oceanography of the South China Sea, the first cooperation project of all parties under the framework of the DOC, was successfully held in Qingdao. Today's workshop represents another major step to materialize cooperation under DOC. I am now in a process of consulting with my counterparts from ASEAN countries on the timing of hosting the forth-coming SOM leaders meeting in China in early next year on the implementation of the DOC. This has fully demonstrated China's resolve and sincerity to work together with the ASEAN countries to actively and comprehensively implement the DOC, and will further boost practical cooperation in the South China Sea.
I believe that dialogue and cooperation are the most realistic and effective way to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, solve differences and problems and increase mutual trust among various parties. China sincerely hopes to work with the ASEAN countries, speed up the implementation of the follow-up actions of the DOC, and promote practical maritime cooperation so as to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation for the benefit of people of all countries.
East Asian countries are enjoying steady economic development and dynamic external trade. To a certain degree, it is attributable to the full guarantee of freedom of navigation and relatively well-kept safety of navigation in the South China Sea. It goes without saying that freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea is vital to countries in and surrounding Asia. In particular, China has a major and direct stake in the freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea for its economic development and opening-up endeavor as the sea is an important route for China's foreign trade and energy transportation. The Chinese government has always maintained that the freedom of navigation and overfly in the South China Sea, a right enjoyed by all countries in accordance with the international law, should be fully guaranteed. It has worked with parties concerned, actively participated in international cooperation on maritime safety in this region and made positive contribution to safeguarding navigation safety in the South China Sea. At the same time, we must be soberly aware that navigation safety in the South China Sea is confronted with a host of challenges, including piracy and transnational organized crime. The technical maintenance of the shipping lanes should be strengthened, and the parties should further strengthen and improve relevant regional cooperation mechanisms to jointly combat activities that would undermine the navigation safety in the South China Sea and ensure the safety and smoothness of navigation in the South China Sea.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You are coming from various sectors dealing with maritime affair, including government officials, experts and scholars. I hope you will have a free and indepth discussion on the theme of this meeting to explore in great depth brilliant ideas and good ways to enhance cooperation on navigation safety in the South China Sea and promote the implementation of the follow-up actions of the DOC and contribute your wisdom to greater navigation safety in the South China Sea and prosperity and development of the region. I am confident that with our concerted efforts, we will keep making new progress in implementing the DOC and promoting practical cooperation in the South China Sea and ensure the sound and long-term growth of the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership.
Finally, I wish the conference a full success and wish you all a pleasant stay in Hainan.