In an effort to avoid further incidents from arising in the Asia-Pacific region, navy chiefs in attendance at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium have signed a historic naval pact that would change the way potential conflict is avoided in the area. The agreement called Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea outlines procedures navy vessels should take in the event of unexpected contact with others.
Such agreement is timely, as increased maritime activities have been taking place in the region. Japan, which is engaged in a bitter territorial row with China, is pleased with the code and deems it “as extremely meaningful in encouraging China to play a responsible and constructive role.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga hopes the conduct will pave way for a better “marine crisis management mechanism” between their two countries. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which the Philippines and Vietnam are members of, is looking at a separate agreement that would cover oil and gas-rich islands in the region.
The agreement was also signed by the United States, which is increasing its presence in the region. Months ago, an incident involving the missile warship Cowpens making a sharp turn to avoid collision with a Chinese naval ship that cut in its front brought concerns to China’s aggressive activities in the area. However, while the code does not cover everything that may arise within the region, it’s a step toward avoiding further incidents from escalating through better communication, signals and procedures with other navies.
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