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Oct 27, 2021 / 12:24

ASEAN needs to be firm in South China Sea issues: Hanoi

ASEAN as a whole has to play a leading role in keeping peace, security, and stability in the South China Sea.

ASEAN needs to stick to its stance on the East Sea issues (referred to as the South China Sea), Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said at the 39th ASEAN Summit takes place on Oct 26-28.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the 39th ASEAN Summit on Oct 26. Photo: VGP 


The 10-member countries should strongly promote the commitments of countries to abide by international law, behave responsibly and exercise restraint to avoid escalating tensions, Chinh said at the ongoing event.

The parties need to ensure that freedom of navigation and overflight is in the interests of all countries, requiring settlement in a peaceful manner based on international law, he stated.

At the meeting, ASEAN’s leaders stressed the importance of ASEAN Centrality that should be reinforced and respected while promoting dialogues and building trust for mutual interests. They also emphasized the need for new cooperation to contribute to regional peace, stability, and prosperity.

It also requires further collaboration for common issues like maritime environment conservation, fighting Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU), and humanitarian assistance to fishermen and seafarers. 

They agreed with the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China (DOC), the early completion of the Code of Conduct (COC) with the best efforts of the parties, in accordance with international law and UNCLOS 1982 that regulates all ocean activities.

The South China Sea dispute is not an intra-ASEAN conflict. It is a conflict involving some ASEAN maritime member states, namely Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and the Philippines. However, all ASEAN member states have been working for regional matters concerning its peace, security, stability, and prosperity.

Hanoi, like other regional parties and stakeholders, reaffirmed the importance of multilateralism in the South China Sea issues.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi at the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting in Chongqing, China in early June 2021, believed that the South China Sea issues will be a test for ASEAN-China relations.

She believed that the ability of ASEAN and China to manage the South China Sea could strengthen their partnership of “equality and mutual benefit.” She called on ASEAN member states and China to soon resume negotiating the COC which will be used as guidelines for parties in the sea.

An estimated one-third of global shipping or US$5.3 trillion worth of goods transits through the South China Sea annually, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).