Sep 11, 2020 / 03:05

ASEAN welcomes US’s constructive role in South China Sea

The Hanoitimes - Vietnam's foreign minister expressed “serious concern” over ongoing developments on the ground, including serious incidents, continued militarization.

ASEAN welcomes the US’s constructive and responsive contributions to the bloc’s efforts in maintaining peace, stability and development in the South China Sea, Vietnam’s top diplomat has stated, amid rising rivalry between the US and China in this highly contested sea.

 Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh speaks at the virtual ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting on September 10. Photo: Asean2020

“The US’s role and contribution and maintain peace, stability and security in the region are encouraged and appreciated,” Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh said at a virtual conference on September 10 in Hanoi.

The diplomat expressed “serious concern” over ongoing developments on the ground, including serious incidents, continued militarization and activities that infringe on the lawful rights of littoral countries, run counter to international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.

“These have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and undermined peace, security and rule of law in the region,” Mr. Minh noted.

He reiterated the “clear and consistent” position of Vietnam and ASEAN on this matter that is enhancing mutual trust and confidence, exercising self-restrain in the conduct of activities, non-militarization, settlement of disputes through peaceful means in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

ASEAN will continue efforts on the full implementation of the DOC in its entirety and to early conclude the COC that is effective, substantive and consistent with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS, he said, hoping that the COC negotiations will be resumed soon.

Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin on Wednesday said officials of ASEAN and China will "meet face to face no later than November."

Mr. Minh noted that economic partnerships between ASEAN and the US continue to expand. The US businesses are encouraged to explore new opportunities in the ASEAN market as they consider diversifying investment destinations and trade flows. Quality infrastructure, energy, and digital economy development, those that the US has strengths in and that ASEAN is in need of are very much encouraged.

The two sides are also cooperating in addressing emerging and pressing challenges, including Covid-19.

The US has pledged to launch the US-ASEAN Health Future initiative and the US-ASEAN Health Future Alumni network to strengthen regional capacity in response to public health emergencies.

“Vietnam looks forward to the launching of the regional office of the US CDC in Vietnam,” Mr. Minh added.