From September 14 to 15, 2013, the 6th Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and the 9th Joint Working Group Meeting on the Implementation of the "Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" (DOC) were held in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. The SOM was co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Sihasak Phuangketkeow. The parties had an in-depth exchange of views on the full and effective implementation of the DOC and strengthening pragmatic maritime cooperation in a friendly and candid atmosphere. The parties also held consultations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea under the framework of implementing the DOC.
The participating delegates agreed that the DOC, as the first political document signed by China and the ASEAN countries on the South China Sea issue, is of milestone significance to the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea. The full and effective implementation of the DOC is in line with the common interests of all parties and conducive to promoting China-ASEAN strategic partnership.
The meeting reviewed the implementation of the DOC and gave fully affirmed the positive progress on the implementation of the DOC since 2012. The meeting noted that the parties held three senior officials meetings and three joint working group meetings on the implementation of the DOC, formulated and effectively executed the 2012 work plan, carried out cooperation in disaster prevention and mitigation, marine ecology and other fields, and maintained good momentum in implementing the DOC through dialogue and cooperation.
The parties agreed to continue the full and effective implementation of the DOC, deepen pragmatic cooperation and contribute to the healthy and stable development of China-ASEAN strategic partnership. The meeting approved the 2013-2014 work plan for the implementation of the DOC. China proposed cooperative initiatives including establishing maritime emergency help hot-lines between China and ASEAN countries and conducting sand table exercises on joint maritime search and rescue. Thailand and Indonesia also raised relevant cooperative initiatives.
In the consultations on the COC, the participating parties had healthy discussions on how to promote the COC process. The parties agreed to follow the "step by step and to reach consensus through consultation" approach and start from identifying the consensus to gradually expand consensus and narrow differences. The parties agreed to continue to steadily push forward the COC process during the full and effective implementation of DOC. The meeting decided to authorize the Joint Working Group to conduct concrete consultations on the COC and agreed to take steps to establish a celebrity expert group.
The participating parties agreed to strengthen mutual communication, enhance mutual trust, build consensus, eliminate interference, and make unremitting efforts to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and co-operation. The parties agreed to finalize the date for the next senior officials meeting and the joint working group meeting through diplomatic channels.
Before the start of the senior officials meeting, Liu Zhenmin and Sihasak Phuangketkeow unveiled the photo exhibition for the joint maritime search and rescue cooperation and exchange visits between China and ASEAN countries.