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Oct 17, 2020 / 01:54

ASEAN welcomes further maritime cooperation with Quad, Hanoi says

The Quad can deepen engagement with ASEAN in defending freedom of navigation.

Vietnam has said ASEAN always welcomes ideas and initiatives that contribute to common peace, stability and prosperity when it comes to possible enhancement of maritime cooperation between the Quad and the 10-nation bloc.

 The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad) includes India, the US, Australia and Japan 

As the ASEAN Chair 2020, Vietnam has promoted the building of the ASEAN Community, affirmed the ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture and boosted the bloc’s external relations that are in line with the chairmanship’s theme “cohesive and responsive”, Spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang has said.

"In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic which causes direct, long term and profound effects on the socio-economic of the region and the world, Vietnam wishes and stands ready with ASEAN countries and partners to work together to recover economies, stabilize people’s lives for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific region," said the Vietnamese spokesperson.

"In this process, international law, the spirit of dialogue and cooperation should always be highly appreciated," she stressed.

Earlier this week, speaking at the India-US Forum in Delhi, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun called for an expansion of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (better known as the Quad), which is an informal grouping of India, Australia, Japan and the US.

He said the Quad can extend to broader areas of shared interests and with other like-minded partners, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

In Southeast Asia, Quad partners can deepen engagement with ASEAN, cooperate in defending freedom of the seas, and work together in governance, health, environmental protection, water conservation and transparent data sharing, especially regarding the Mekong, he said.

 Quad foreign ministers gather in Tokyo on October 6. Photo: India’s Ministry of External Affairs 

Widely viewed as an arrangement to counter China, the Quad meeting on October 6 in Tokyo occurred alongside rising concerns among its four members regarding instances of Beijing’s aggressive behavior and questions about its role in the initial stages of the Covid-19 outbreak, according to Sarah Teo, research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.

The read-outs from all four countries following the Quad ministerial meeting reaffirmed their support for ASEAN centrality and mechanisms in the regional architecture.

From late March, deputy foreign ministers of the Quad countries, as well as New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam, have been meeting virtually on a regular basis. The composition of this arrangement has led some to dub it the “Quad Plus.”

Looking ahead, the Quad’s evolution would be expected to bring about changes in the regional architecture and, potentially, the role of ASEAN-centric mechanisms in this architecture, Sarah Teo wrote for The Diplomat.