Jul 02, 2020 / 18:10

China agrees to resume negotiations on COC in South China Sea

The Hanoitimes - No meeting on COC has been held since the beginning of this year due to Covid-19.

Senior officias of China and ASEAN have agreed to resume negotiations for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) as the process has stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nguyen Quoc Dung, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the meeting on July 1. Photo: MOFA 

The consensus was reached at the 26th ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Consultation (ACSOC) held on July 1 in a virtual form. ACSOC belongs to Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOM) between ASEAN and partners, preparing for ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) with partners in the second half this year.

However, no time table has been specified.

At the virtual meeting, ASEAN and China affirmed the commitment to fully and strictly adhere by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

The two sides agreed to enhance dialogue, cooperation, and trust to ensure regional peace, security, and stability, according to a press release by Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

At Wednesday meeting, Nguyen Quoc Dung, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of the SOM Vietnam said ASEAN will continue cooperating with China to build COC suitable with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Mr. Dung said ASEAN has approached comprehensive security at a time when the region witnesses complexity and challenges. Related countries need to prioritize principles of mutual respect, trust, conformity to international law, and peacefully solving disputes and differences.

Previously, Emeritus professor Carl Thayer, the University of New South Wales, Canberra, said “No planned negotiations on the South China Sea Code of Conduct have taken place this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The professor made the comment after Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung said Vietnam and other ASEAN members will not “avoid the South China Sea and the Code of Conduct” prior to the 36th ASEAN Summit held online on June 26.

The last ASEAN-China Senior Officials Meeting was held in October 2019 in Da Lat, Vietnam. Planned meetings in Brunei in February and the Philippines in May were not held due to the pandemic.