A specific roadmap needed to soon achieve COC

The most important thing to early achieve a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) is that ASEAN and China need to ensure the full and proper implementation of terms stipulated in the COC, ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said in a recent interview with VOV on the fringes of the ASEAN economic community (AEC) meeting in Myanmar.

Code of Conduct in the East Sea, East Sea, ASEAN

ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh.

2015 is considered a pivotal year for fulfilling the target of establishing a united ASEAN community. How far has this roadmap been conducted? And what are challenges?

ASEAN has so far accomplished 82% of work. Theoretically, the remaining work is not much but it is harder to take a number of measures pertaining to more sensitive areas of the member countries’ economies. The remaining measures belong to transport and customs standards.

Another challenge is how to put the regional grouping’s commitments into national strategies and laws of member states, especially the new ones. Additionally, it is essential to take into account differences in the legal system of each nation.

There remain difficulties in harmonizing and realizing and policies and regional agreements. Besides, ASEAN needs to focus on development and cooperation measures to secure a peaceful environment, security and stability.

On the East Sea issue, the escalating tensions amongst the countries in dispute over sovereignty, principally among ASEAN members and China is also a challenge.

You have mentioned the challenges of building a peaceful and security environment for ASEAN development. A prerequisite is that among major partners of ASEAN, China must cooperate on a basis of goodwill. In the pivotal year 2015, how will the priority be implemented?

China and ASEAN signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) in 2002. Article 5 of the Declaration emphasizes the two sides are not allowed to change the status quo in the sea and in disputed areas.

Despite the DOC being maintained for 12 years, the situation at sea is still very complex as the ongoing incidents are threatening peace and stability in the region.

It is imperative for both sides to soon achieve a legally-binding COC that is more effective in preventing and dealing with disputes.

ASEAN and China have conducted rounds of formal consultations and also finalized a number of agreements on setting up hot lines and defining factors in the COC. The question is how to map out a specific roadmap for achieving the COC soon.

We only have one more year to form the ASEAN community. For the time being, how hard have the countries worked together to reach this goal?

We will have to fulfill 18% of overall measures of the roadmap for establishing the AEC by the end of 2015. In 2013, the regional bloc devised measures   that need to be accomplished. To date, ASEAN has completed 82.1% of the measures set for 2013.

In addition, ASEAN also realized 61 overall measures set for 2014. The regional grouping need to accelerate the implementation of remaining measures from now until 2015 with a focus on transport, standards and capacity building for new member states thus helping them fully implement their community-building commitments.

As you just said, we still have to cope with heavy pressure of work to reach the goal of building the ASEAN Community by the end of this year. What is your expectation for the ultimate goal?

ASEAN adopted a political declaration and a post-2015 ASEAN vision which underlines the importance of working out a specific roadmap to carry out new and unfinished measures during the community-building and integration process.

ASEAN may not implement all the measures outlined in the community-building roadmap later this year. Yet, if most of the core measures are done, the regional bloc will be successful in building the community and other work will continue after 2015.


Code of Conduct in the East Sea, East Sea, ASEAN