|Soldiers on Nui Le island, Truong Sa district, Khanh Hoa province, salute the flag. Photo: Duy Tien/ baodaklak.vn
The first East Sea document agreed by ASEAN and China, the DOC is the basis for assessing the legality and legitimacy of actions and deciding if they accord with commitments made. The DOC promotes trust and maritime cooperation between ASEAN and China.
Compliance with the DOC
In the declaration, the parties affirm their commitment to the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia with its five fundamentals of peaceful coexistence and other universal principles of international law, which are the basic rules governing relations between nations.
Vietnam has always honored its DOC commitments and encouraged other countries to do so. Vietnam insists on settling all East Sea disputes by peaceful means and on the basis of international law and continues to push for a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC). At multilateral and bilateral forums, Vietnamese leaders have consistently prioritized peaceful settlement of all disputes and differences on the basis of international law and a foreign policy of independence, peace, friendship, cooperation, and development.
Vietnam respects maritime cooperation activities mentioned by the DOC, including marine environmental protection, marine scientific research, and search and rescue. It has signed multiple agreements with other countries to resolve overlapping sea area claims. Vietnam and the Philippines jointly initiated and conducted a program called Oceanographic and Marine Scientific Research Surveys in the East Sea. With four successful survey trips in 1996, 2000, 2005, and 2006, this has been an example of maritime research cooperation in the region, especially among East Sea claimants. Vietnam-Philippines maritime cooperation has extended to environmental protection, hydro-meteorology, marine transportation, and search and rescue.
Vietnam and China have worked together on marine sediment research and environmental protection projects on the basis of compliance with international law using the resources of both. International cooperation effectiveness has confirmed the correctness of Vietnam’s East Sea policy.
Vietnam's consistent stance on the East Sea has received strong support from the international community. In an article on the Russian website Infox.ru titled "Vietnam – the flagship of ASEAN", Grigory Trofimchuk said Vietnam's consistent and constructive stance on establishing an environment of peace and stability in the entire region, including the East Sea, is an important factor that helps Vietnam adapt to modern geopolitics. The Russian emphasized Vietnam's role in regional issues and its rising reputation globally.
Valeria Vershinina of the Moscow State University of International Relations highlighted Vietnam's role in seeking a solution to disputes in the East Sea.
Another expert, Anton Viktorovich Bredikhin, Doctor of History at the Russian Academy of Sciences, praised Vietnam's consistent efforts to create a peaceful and stable environment for development of the marine economy, with the motto "peace-friendship, cooperation-development."
Since the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea 20 years ago, Vietnam’s rational approach and active push for comprehensive implementation of the DOC has contributed to the joint efforts of ASEAN and the international community for an East Sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation.