Jan 18, 2020 / 13:26

ASEAN foreign ministers express concerns about South China Sea developments

The Hanoitimes - The top diplomats reaffirmed the importance of the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

The foreign ministers of 10 ASEAN member states have been concerned about developments in the South China Sea, including land reclamations, recent developments and serious incidents.

 ASEAN foreign ministers at the retreat held in Nha Trang city. Photo: VNA

The regional top diplomats expressed concerns at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat which concluded in Nha Trang city, Vietnam on January 17, 2020.

The Retreat is the first gathering of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meetings in 2020 under the theme “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” to be held in Vietnam, which is chairing ASEAN.

 Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh, Chairman of the retreat. Photo: VGP

During the sitting, the foreign ministers discussed the situation in the South China Sea, saying that the developments have “eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region,” according to the press statement by the Chairman of the Retreat.

“We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea and recognized the benefits of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and prosperity,” the press statement showed.

“We underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety. We were encouraged by the progress of the substantive negotiations towards the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) that is consistent with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.”

“We emphasized the need to maintain and promote an environment conducive to the COC negotiations, and thus welcomed practical measures that could reduce tensions and the risk of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation. We stressed the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence amongst parties; and we reaffirmed the importance of upholding international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.”

“We reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS. We reaffirmed that international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS is the basis for determining sovereignty, sovereign rights and legitimate interests over maritime areas.”

“We further reaffirmed that the 1982 UNCLOS is the overarching framework of legal order for the seas that must be respected by all countries. We emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states, including those mentioned in the DOC that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea,” said the statement.