PHNOM PENH, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Senior officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China jointly held a workshop on the 10th anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) here on Thursday.
"The workshop is the opportunity for both sides, ASEAN and China, to really reflect on how to keep the DOC alive in dealing with the current situation in the South China Sea," Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said at the opening address.
He recalled that both ASEAN and China had signed this important milestone document in Phnom Penh in 2002, when Cambodia chaired ASEAN for the very first time, in order to transform the South China Sea into a "permanent" sea of peace, stability, friendship and cooperation for mutual benefits and interests.
"ASEAN and China agreed to sign the DOC at the level of foreign ministers meant that ASEAN and China were farsighted and, at the same time, fully committed to settle any disputes peacefully in the South China Sea," he said. "Cambodia is pleased to note that all parties concerned have expressed their strong and full commitment to respect and implement the DOC."
He added that nine years after signing the DOC, the foreign ministers of ASEAN and China finally reached an agreement on the DOC Guidelines at their meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in July 2011, in order to pave the way for effective implementation of the DOC.
"With the DOC Guidelines in place, ASEAN and China have been implementing a number of DOC-related activities to promote trust and enhance confidence between the two sides," he said.
He added that the two sides should implement the DOC in full by identifying concrete activities for mutual interests and engaging in discussions on a step-by-step basis for the eventual adoption of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
Hor Namhong also spoke highly of the good cooperation between ASEAN and China, saying that ASEAN and China are strategic partners, working closely together in many sectors of cooperation at all levels through multi-mechanisms.
ASEAN and China have made tremendous progress in all areas, such as politics and security, trade and economic cooperation, and social and cultural development, he said.
Addressing the workshop, Fu Ying, Chinese vice foreign minister, said that the two-day workshop was a rare opportunity to further enhance mutual trust, promote cooperation, jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.
China is committed to the full and effective implementation of the DOC, she said, adding, "We are firm in our resolve and sincere in our attitude. We are ready to work with ASEAN countries to make unremitting efforts to implement the DOC."
"Compliance by all parties is the key. The DOC is signed by China and all ten ASEAN countries and is equally binding to all parties," she said. "It is a common responsibility and obligation for China and ASEAN countries to follow and implement the DOC effectively."
Fu also spoke of the importance of the DOC, saying that it establishes fundamental principles for addressing disputes in the South China Sea and it makes clear that disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved "by peaceful means, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned".
The DOC also helps to cement political trust between China and ASEAN, and has been a source of strong momentum for China and ASEAN to establish and continuously develop the strategic partnership, she added.
She suggested that China and ASEAN should work toward the eventual adoption of a COC in a gradual way.
"Making effort toward the ultimate formulation of a COC on the basis of consensus through consultation is an important agreement reached by China and ASEAN in the DOC," she said. "We want to see that all parties strictly abide by the spirits and principles of the DOC and avoid the tension of the situation on the sea."
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.