2002 Delaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea ）
首先，菲律宾在2月份宣布在南中国海与美国举行巴里卡丹（Balikatan）军事演习。菲律宾的行动似乎受到下述因素驱使，即中国考查船只和军舰在斯普拉特利群岛越来越多的探访，还有去年年底在无人占领的岛礁上新的中国标记物的突然出现，这些事件让马尼拉更加不安。这种加剧的紧张状态直到菲律宾总统格洛丽亚-马卡帕加尔-阿罗约（Gloria Macapagal Arroyo）向该地区保证军事演习与海上领土争端没有任何关系时才得以缓解。
然后轮到台湾。3月23日，台湾一艘快艇载着8人登陆Ban Than Reef小岛，并在岛上快速搭建一个临时“观鸟站”。越南强烈谴责了台湾的行为，并要求台湾方面停止搭建活动。越南外交部发言人黎勇（Le Dung）指责台湾的行动为“一种抢夺土地的扩张行为，这种行为严重侵犯了越南的领土主权”，并警告台湾要为其“冒险行为”承担一切可能的后果。
台湾的行动并非没有遭到回应。Ban Than Reef事件过后两天，越南宣布将把首批观光团送往这一有争议的岛屿，目的在于重申该国对东沙和西沙群岛的主权。中国则决定4月12日在南中国海举行一次海军演习，给其它各方发出令其放弃的信号。
另一种观点更为谨慎。例如，菲律宾大学亚洲中心的艾琳-巴维耶拉（Aileen Baviera ）警告不要急于对宣言作出判断并彻底地抛弃宣言，他主张各方要不断地参考宣言，无论什么时候出现问题，都建议各方要继续根据宣言的精神发现其价值和目的。从这种意义上来说，宣言具有参考价值，可以使争端各方的行动更加温和。菲律宾和中国将各自的海军演习低调处理为一种定期的安全常规演习或是与海上领土争端无关的一种演习，这种做法与它们以往更加自信的立场相比就是一个明显的转变。
罗纳德-罗德里格斯（RONALD A. RODRIGUEZ），菲律宾外交学院国际关系和战略研究中心东北亚项目和安全与战略研究项目的负责人，目前是太平洋论坛的法兹研究助理员（Vasey Fellow ）。太平洋论坛是战略暨国际研究中心（CSIS）设在檀香山的美国智囊机构。以上是他的个人观点。
Spratly Islands DISPUTE
By RONALD A. RODRIGUEZ
HONOLULU -- Recent events confirm that maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea remain an issue for East Asian governments. Ownership of the Spratly Islands is claimed, in whole or in part, by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
In the first quarter of 2004 alone, the claimants took turns building up anxiety, raising concerns about the sustainability of the status quo and whether the 2002 Delaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea could ensure the claimants' self-restraint.
First came the Philippines' announcement of the Balikatan exercises with the United States in the South China Sea in February. The Philippine action appeared to be driven by Manila's growing uneasiness over an increasing number of visits by Chinese research vessels and warships in the Spratly Islands, as well as the sudden appearance of new Chinese markers on the unoccupied reefs late last year. The mounting tension did not dissipate until Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assured the region that the military exercises did not have anything to do with the maritime territorial disputes.
Then came Taiwan's turn. On March 23, a Taiwanese speedboat carrying eight individuals landed and carried out the swift construction of a makeshift "bird-watching stand" on the Ban Than Reef. Vietnam strongly condemned Taiwan's move and demanded an end to the construction activities. Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Dung branded Taiwan's handiwork "an act of land-grabbing expansion that seriously violated Vietnam's territorial sovereignty" and warned of possible consequences from Taiwan's "adventurism."
Taiwan's action didn't go unanswered. Two days after the Ban Than Reef incident, Vietnam reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spratly) and the Hoang Sa (Paracel) atolls by announcing that it would hold the inaugural tourist boat trip to the contested islands. China decided to conduct a Navy drill in the South China Sea on April 12, sending signals to the other claimants to back off.
The Chinese display of naval capability in the South China Sea didn't stop Vietnam. Unfazed, Hanoi gave its white navy ship HQ988 the go signal to sail for the atolls with about 60 tourists and 40 officials on April 19. Many saw the controversial eight-day round trip as the beginning of more Vietnamese tourism activities in the area -- a development that follows the Malaysian lead of a few years ago.
The maneuvering for advantage in the South China Sea reveals the frailty of the nonbinding declaration. In November 2002, the region celebrated the signing in Phnom Penh of the landmark declaration between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China in which the claimants agreed to avoid actions that could raise tension in the South China Sea. The nonbinding nature of the declaration, however, has been a concern for some of the signatories. Two years after it was signed, the parties are almost back to where they started. Most, if not all, do not seem ready to allow regional concerns to supersede their national interests. This is why, at least for some critics, the declaration has been reduced to a "flimsy piece of paper."
There are two views on the value of the declaration. Mark Valencia, an ocean policies expert at the Honolulu-based East-West Center, typifies the skeptic's view. He anticipated that the declaration was doomed, considering it a flawed attempt to reduce the heat over territory in the South China Sea. This view sees the declaration to be a self-deceiving exercise that satisfied ASEAN's thirst for political accomplishment, but did not offer profound changes in the security situation in the South China Sea. Valencia emphasizes that no loose agreement would prevent claimants from positioning themselves strategically in the lingering dispute.
The other view takes a more cautious position. Aileen Baviera of the University of the Philippines' Asian Center, for instance, cautions against a rush to judgment and outright dismissal of the declaration, arguing the claimants' constant reference to it whenever there is a problem suggests that parties continue to find value and purpose in its spirit. In this sense, the declaration has value as a referent, and modifies the behavior of the parties to the dispute. The Philippines' and China's efforts to downplay their navy drills as either part of a regular security routine or unrelated to the maritime territorial disputes indicate a turnaround in their more self-assured positions of the past.
Recent moves by Taiwan and Vietnam cannot be downplayed, however. It's time to reassess the declaration and see how similar incidents can be avoided. For one, the parties should start molding a set of guidelines that will diminish the gray areas in the declaration. The declaration should define the 10 points that the parties have agreed on and seek strategies to put them into operation them as soon as possible. The mounting criticisms of the declaration should create momentum for greater interest in a more binding agreement.
In addition, the parties should build on the prospects for regional cooperation that emerged out of China's decision to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN on Oct. 8, 2003. Not only does the treaty commit ASEAN and China to a nonaggression pact, but it also increases the possibility of a more binding agreement on the South China Sea in the future.
Optimists and skeptics share the view that dialogue is a basic need in the South China Sea. But any fresh initiative should emphasize the need for progress in cooperative endeavors, rather than dwell on infractions. The parties can begin with the six proposed areas of cooperation in the declaration, which include marine environmental protection, marine scientific research, safety of navigation and communications at sea, search and rescue operation and combating transnational crime.
Taiwan will continue to be a problem. To date, China has refused to allow Taiwan to become a signatory to any legal accord in the South China Sea. Yet any failure to consider Taiwan's interests will enable it to play spoiler. A peaceful resolution to the disputes requires effective management of the Taiwan problem.
In hindsight, it was probably the lack of sustained dialogue that has weakened the foundations of the declaration. The parties overlooked the fact that continuous interaction is an equally important element of the signed declaration. While an informal working group still convenes, the gradual retreat of catalysts like Canada and Indonesia, as well as key individuals like Hasjim Djalal, has had an impact.
The parties may not readily agree, but it appears that the South China Sea needs another intermediary. Takers anyone?
Ronald A. Rodriguez, head of the Northeast Asia program and officer in charge of the security and strategic studies program at the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies, Foreign Service Institute of the Philippines, is currently a Vasey Fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS, a U.S. think tank based in Honolulu. These are his personal views.
The Japan Times: June 28, 2004