15th East Sea Conference opens in Ho Chi Minh City

The 15th East Sea International Conference themed “Luminate the Grey, Light Up the Green” opened in Ho Chi Minh City on October 15, with more than 200 delegates attending in person while nearly 250 others participate via teleconferencing.
An overview of the 15th East Sea International Conference (Photo: VNA)

An overview of the 15th East Sea International Conference (Photo: VNA)

The event gathers nearly 50 speakers who are reputable experts from nearly 20 countries.

Elaborating on the theme of the conference, Acting President of Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam Pham Lan Dung said that the organising board hopes that participants will analyze the state of play of the East Sea (also known as South China Sea) and the region, clarify the governing rules, identify policies that enhance trust and cooperation, and highlight activities that upset the rules-based order and create tensions.

“By illuminating grey areas, we hope to make the maritime domain more transparent, more tranquil,” she said.

At the same time, the conference is expected to “Light Up the Green” to shed light on the potentials of the sea and the future by promoting best practices in key areas of the green transformation, such as offshore wind energy, transformative marine technologies, research, and investments, said Dung, expressing her hope that participants will discuss how maritime capacities, such as law enforcement agencies and regional mechanisms, can contribute in a constructive manner to the development of a bluer, or greener East Sea.

In his key speech at the opening session, Deputy Foreign Minister Do Hung Viet said that over the past 15 years, the East Sea Conference series has provided an open, candid, friendly environment for regional and international experts to come together to advance mutual understanding, and narrow differences.

The official said he hopes that in the next 15 years, the dialogue will further evolve into a key region-wide maritime security forum, one that is open, inclusive and innovative in nature, a meeting point and hub of interests spanning from the “Indo” to the “Pacific” and beyond.

Deputy FM Viet held that the global center of gravity continues to shift toward the Indo-Pacific, which is becoming the “Epicentrum” of global growth and a key locomotive for global recovery and future prosperity.

But this future cannot be guaranteed without sustained peace and stability, including in the regional maritime domain, he stressed.

He quoted UN Secretary-General Guterres as saying that strategic rivalries are creating “great divides” and “a great fracture”. Conflicts are breaking out in many regions, from Europe to the Middle East, he noted, adding that the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in the maritime domain, is certainly not immune from risks of confrontations and conflicts.

The official underlined the need to constantly screen the maritime domain of potential dangers, to review existing cooperation mechanisms to address emerging challenges, and to act together to preempt those threats.

He said that in the past 15 years, the East Sea situation has grown increasingly complicated. At the same time, this is a region of tremendous opportunities. The recent agreement on biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, the BBNJ agreement, of which Vietnam is among first signatories, has shown the common interests related to the seas far outweigh differences, said the Deputy FM.

Deputy Foreign Minister Do Hung Viet addresses the event (Photo: VNA)

Deputy Foreign Minister Do Hung Viet addresses the event (Photo: VNA)

Therefore, the “Light up the Green” part in the conference’s theme this year will allow participants to explore those opportunities, and turn them into specific and concrete cooperation activities, said Viet, stressing the critical need for respecting and upholding international law of the sea, as reflected in the 1928 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

The official also highlighted the efforts by Vietnam and ASEAN countries in securing a stable and lawful regional order, including in the maritime domain.

“We are committed to the effective operationalisation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and the recently launched ASEAN Maritime Outlook – a strategic guidance for ASEAN member states to expand their maritime cooperation regionally and internationally. We are open to new initiatives aimed at our common goals, through bilateral, multilateral or new frameworks,” he stated.

Running through October 26, the conference comprises eight sessions covering many topics. Particularly, it includes a discussion among representatives from coast guard forces of some countries in the coast of the East Sea. A discussion for young leaders is also on the official agenda of the conference.

Besides, many senior officials, including Minister of State at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and European External Action Service (EEAS) Acting Managing Director for Asia and Pacific, will deliver special speeches at the conference.

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