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Jun 17, 2021 / 18:36

Multilateral approach required for South China Sea: Vietnam defense minister

Vietnam said it cannot help but mention the South China Sea because of its important position in the global supply chain.

The multilateral resolutions need to be used for matters involving multiple countries in solving the South China Sea (called East Sea by Vietnam) issues, Vietnamese Minister of National Defense Phan Van Giang said at the 8th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) held virtually on June 16.

 Vietnamese Minister of National Defense Phan Van Giang at the 8th ADMM-Plus. Photos: Ministry of Nationa Defense

Addressing the ADMM-Plus for the first time, Giang shared the same view with regional defense ministers, stating that “We all share the same opinion that peace, cooperation, and development remain a key trend, but there exist threats that are both traditional and non-traditional security ones.”

Regarding maritime security in the South China Sea, Giang said “We cannot help but mention the East Sea because of its important position in the global supply chain. Therefore, relevant parties must come up with appropriate solutions to ensure the legitimate interests of all parties."

He went on to say Vietnam believed that all relevant parties need to strictly abide by the principle of resolving disagreements by peaceful means, on the basis of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"It is necessary to implement the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) effectively and substantively," Giang noted.

He highlighted that the maritime forces must exercise utmost restraint, taking no actions that complicate the situation in any form.

As for off-shore fishing, Giang stressed the importance of humane treating towards fishermen in any circumstance at sea, noting that ensuring such actions will prove the defense officers themselves those working for peace.

  Defense ministers of 18 countries gather at the 8th ADMM-Plus. 

Joint declaration

The ADMM-Plus is a dialogue platform among defense ministers of 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) and eight partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the US.

The dialogue was officially launched on October 12, 2010 in Hanoi, marking a significant milestone in ASEAN’s history as it united the defense ministers of ASEAN and its partners for the first time and enabled the plus countries to contribute to the capacity-building in response to common security threats in the region.

At the 8th ADMM-Plus, ministers of 18 countries reached a joint declaration that reaffirmed the ADMM-Plus was an open and inclusive arrangement, with ASEAN at the center, allowing ADMM-Plus countries to contribute to dialogue and practical cooperation on security issues.

The ministers stress the importance of putting in place practical confidence-building measures for maritime security by exercising the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea and implementing the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 to ensure a peaceful environment conducive to sustainable development and prosperity in the region.

They encourage the conduct of joint ADMM-Plus exercises amongst our militaries to build trust and confidence and to enhance our capability in addressing common security challenges.

Meanwhile, the member countries promote the pursuit of practical defense cooperation and initiatives that contribute to the defense and military establishments’ capacity to be future-ready for regional challenges, while caring for the well-being of the ASEAN people and ensuring shared prosperity for the region.