A closer look at DOC

The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, or DOC, is regarded as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the region.

The DOC was signed by China and ASEAN nations in Cambodia in 2002. It was the first political document signed between the two parties to the South China Sea. 

The declaration reaffirmed their determination to promote a partnership of good neighborliness and mutual trust. It stressed solving disputes over the South China Sea through peaceful means. The Parties promised to not take any actions that would complicate or escalate the disputes. The Parties agreed to seek ways, in the spirit of cooperation and understanding, to build mutual trust, including maritime environmental protection, search and rescue, and countering cross-border crimes. 

Since the signing of the declaration, China has promoted various kinds of cooperation under its framework. In Bali, Indonesia in 2011, China and ASEAN countries agreed on guidelines on implementing the declaration. The guidelines were passed by the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting the next day on July the 21st, paving the way for implementation of the declaration and promotion of pragmatic cooperation in the South China Sea.   

Later in 2013, the Parties concerned held consultations on launching the formation of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea under the framework of the DOC.