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Expert: East China Sea deal 'flexible and pragmatic'
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A Chinese expert said Wednesday that the joint development understanding reached by China and Japan over the East China Sea is "flexible" and "pragmatic", serving the interests of both sides.

"The agreement is flexible and pragmatic and without prejudicing their respective legal positions," Liu Nanlai, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on international law, said in a story published on website of the Global Times.

Liu said that the terms such as "transitional period", "provisional arrangements" and "without prejudicing their respective legal positions" mentioned in the understanding complied with international law and practice.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed in 1982, countries that have differences over the delimitation of sea areas can "enter into provisional arrangements of a practical nature" before the the final delimitation, and such arrangements shall be without prejudice to the position of the countries concerned or to the final delimitation.

There have been over 20 international agreements related to the joint development in an aim to resolve the problems of the delimitation of sea areas, Liu added.

Liu said the understanding has three features in an international legal perspective.

First, the block for the joint development "is not big" and only covers about 2600 square meters. However, it bears very strong symbolic meanings.

"It can be regarded as an experiment and the two countries are likely to continue the joint development scheme in other areas in the East China Sea", Liu said.

Second, the jointly-recognized "principle of reciprocity" would help establish joint investment, joint exploration and share of the resource within the block.

Third, the understanding is of "provisional" and "principled" nature and requires equal consultation and pragmatic cooperation for future implementation.

"The two countries still have a long way to go," Liu said.

The Chinese and Japanese governments announced on Wednesday that both sides had reached principled consensus on the East China Sea issue.

(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2008)

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