Jun 24, 2019 / 07:28

Unlawful unilateral activities in South China Sea worrisome: Vietnam PM

The Hanoitimes - Unlawful behaviors in the sea require ASEAN`s better role in dealing with.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the situation in the South China Sea remains complicated despite progress in negotiations between ASEAN and China towards establishing a Code of Conduct (COC) for the contentious sea.
Vietnam's PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his spouse arrive Bangkok on June 22 for the 34th ASEAN Summit. Photo: The Nation
Vietnam's PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his spouse arrive Bangkok on June 22 for the 34th ASEAN Summit. Photo: The Nation
“Unlawful unilateral activities, including land reclamation to change the status quo, militarization, collisions that put lives of fishermen in danger are worrisome,” Phuc said in an email interview with Thailand’s The Nation.

“These behaviors have eroded trust and are not conducive to promotion of dialogue and maintenance of peace and stability in the region,” he said. 

The Vietnamese PM was attending the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand on June 20-23 where many hot security issues were discussed.

Vietnam, an ASEAN members, has been involved in the territorial disputes in the contentious sea of which China claims up to 80%. The region became a flashpoint as China began militarization by building facilities for military use years ago. 

The bloc and China signed a legally non-binding declaration on the conduct (DOC) of parties in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls East Sea, in 2002 to regulate the sea, but the situation remains complicated. 

The group and China are now working to have a legally binding code of conduct to control the behavior of riparian states. Ministers and senior officials of the group expect to conclude the first reading of the text by the end of this year. 

Against that backdrop, ASEAN needs to firmly adhere to its fundamental position on the South China Sea, in which the parties concerned should exercise restraint, refrain from any action which may further complicate the situation, Phuc said.

Accordingly, all parties must refrain from militarization and seek to resolve disputes by peaceful means on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea], strictly and fully implement the DOC and strive to formulate a COC that is effective and substantive in line with international law and endorsed by the international community, he said. 

Vietnam’s position 

The Vietnamese PM reckoned that maintaining peace, security and stability in the region was a pre-requisite for sustainable development and prosperity of all nations.

Therefore, addressing challenges to seek proper solutions for the whole region is a must. 

“In the meantime, we are witnessing the strong emergence of both traditional and non-traditional security challenges, alongside multiple hotspots that pose serious threats to peace and stability in the region and the world. These have caused major concerns for all of us.”

Facing such uncertainties sometimes, Vietnam considers that security issues must be satisfactorily resolved by peaceful means on the basis of international law, so as to avoid their escalation into conflict hotspots, which may pose a threat to peace, stability and prosperity in the region, The Nation cited the PM. 

“In recent years, ASEAN has made efforts to contribute to addressing regional security issues, including the South China Sea, [the ethnic conflict in] Rakhine state in Myanmar, the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, terrorism and transnational crimes, among others. Vietnam has been and will continue contributing actively to these joint efforts,” Phuc said.