Geopolitik Energi

April 12, 2007


The 2002 DoC: Strengths and Weaknesses

The DoC builds on earlier declarations and codes of conduct. The signatory parties agree to resolve the territorial dispute by peaceful means, without resort to force or threat of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations, and with respect to international law. According to paragraph five of the DoC, the parties “undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability” – as such, the DoC prohibits claimants from occupying presently unoccupied geographical features. However, it does not prohibit claimants from upgrading existing facilities on presently occupied features. Paragraph five also identifies five kinds of cooperative activities; parties are allowed to undertake, either bilaterally or multilaterally, the following CBMs: marine environmental protection; marine scientific research; safety of navigation and communication at sea; search and rescue operations; and combating transnational crime.
The DoC suffers from a number of weaknesses. It is neither a binding treaty, nor a formal code of conduct. The DoC has no teeth: it does not enumerate sanctions in the event of an infringement, and does not have a geographical scope. Moreover, one of the claimants – Taiwan – is not a party to the DoC because Beijing regards Taiwan as part of the PRC while the ASEAN states, in accordance with the One China policy, do not recognize Taiwan as an independent sovereign state. Yet despite these flaws the DoC represents a political statement meant to reduce tensions in the region and engage in cooperative activities. It is also an agreement to work toward a formal and binding code of conduct. This commitment was reaffirmed in the October 2003 ASEAN-China Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity and the subsequent November 2004 Plan of Action to implement the 2003 Declaration.49

Between November 2002 and early 2004 all parties, by and large, adhered to the provisions of the DoC and tensions in the area eased. However, beginning in March 2004 a series of events occurred which led many to question the efficacy of the DoC. In early April Taiwanese authorities constructed a “bird watching shelter” near the largest of the Spratly Islands, Itu Abu (occupied by Taiwan). Vietnam accused Taiwan of violating the DoC (although Taiwan is not a party to the agreement).50 Several weeks later Hanoi raised the ire of Beijing and Manila by conducting a seven-day cruise for government officials and tourists to geographical features under its control in the Spratlys. Both Manila and Beijing protested the cruise as an infringement of the DoC’s self-restraint clause.51 In response, Hanoi declared that it had “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratlys and that the cruise was part of “normal” activities.52 A month later Vietnam came under further criticism from China when it announced plans to renovate an airstrip on Big Spratly Island with a view to beginning commercial flights in 2005.53 By establishing regular air and sea links to the Spratlys, Vietnam was aiming to strengthen its effectivités over the islands. Vietnam rejected China and the Philippines’ protests on the grounds that paragraph five of the DoC does not specify in detail which kinds of activities are deemed to “complicate or escalate” the dispute. Nor does the DoC forbid Vietnam from upgrading its airstrip on the Big Spratly Island.


  1. Bung,

    Bagus euy blognya…
    Kebetulan saya juga tertarik dengan isu-isu hubungan internasional dan internasional politik.
    Coba dong, ulas teori politik internasional punya Kenneth Waltz

    Comment by sholi — August 31, 2007 @ 10:22 am | Reply

  2. bagus…tpi bahasa inggrisnya itu loh,, pegel bacanya!!

    Comment by indah — April 16, 2008 @ 6:08 am | Reply

  3. fuck bgt malaysia

    Comment by wahyi — March 19, 2009 @ 8:05 am | Reply

  4. Outstanding article!! Will come back soon.

    Comment by DescuemDerb — May 20, 2009 @ 7:03 pm | Reply

  5. Hancurkan malaysia, fuck jöngos britis.

    Comment by Merah putih — June 4, 2009 @ 5:18 am | Reply

  6. Sdh taon 2009, Malay’sin’ masih aj nyolek2 Ambalat,Ooi..INA tegaz dong… Gayang Malaysia…:-(

    Comment by Nieki — June 4, 2009 @ 10:26 am | Reply

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    Comment by cata — June 13, 2009 @ 7:58 am | Reply

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