ASEAN-China to have a special session
VietNamNet Bridge – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China will hold a special conference of foreign ministers this year, possibly in August or September.

East Sea on the agenda of 22nd ASEAN Summit

asean, china, coc, doc, negotiation, east sea, conflict, southeast asia 

Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh. Photo: HG 

The problems associated with the East Sea will be one of the contents on the agenda of senior leaders at the 22nd ASEAN Summit in Brunei this week, April 24-25.

Vietnam’s high-level delegation to the ASEAN Summit is led by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Talking to reporters in Hanoi last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh said that the East Sea issues will be addressed at the meeting. He said:

"In recent times there were complicated developments in the East Sea. At the ASEAN summit, ASEAN leaders will certainly have to discuss how to take measures to ensure peace, stability, security and safety of navigation in the East Sea. This is a very high goal.

In recent exchanges, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers said that ASEAN should continue to promote its role and voice in the East Sea. It is expected that ASEAN leaders will give the direction for achieving this common goal in the future.

I think the important content that ASEAN should continue to develop is ensuring that efforts to build trust, restraint and not make the situation in the East Sea further complicate, to further reinforce the peaceful environment, stability and development cooperation, security and safety of navigation in the East Sea.

It shall promote and ensure effective implementation of the commitments, agreements relating to the East Sea. At the same time, it is very imperative to be built the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) soon, to quickly go into negotiations with China ..."

VietNamNet talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh about the upcoming ASEAN Summit.

Negotiations of COC

Could you confirm the information that China took initiative in proposing a special meeting with ASEAN to accelerate the process of building COC?

asean, china, coc, doc, negotiation, east sea, conflict, southeast asia 

Article 10 of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) mentioned that the two sides will together consult on the COC. In 2011, ASEAN found it necessary to proceed to formulate the COC and proposed consultations from 2011.

From November 2011, ASEAN has discussed the key elements that can be put into the COC to negotiate with China. During this process, ASEAN has actively promoted consultations with China. In 2012, there were informal consultations between ASEAN and China at the SOM (senior officials meeting) level about the COC.

If you look at that length, the COC issue was posed from Article 10 of the DOC, from 2011 until now. ASEAN has realized, in this context, the need and urgency to have the COC so ASEAN has taken the initiative. In particular, Vietnam made a coordinating role in the informal consultations in 2011 and 2012.

Earlier in April, the ASEAN- China senior officials meeting (SOM) took place in Beijing to discuss the overall bilateral relations, including the East Sea issue, especially towards the negotiations of COC. The two parties realized that they need to have a positive consultation process to soon launch formal negotiations.

Do the unofficial consultations between the two sides have not shown ripe conditions in both time and content for the official launch of negotiation?

Both sides found that to discuss the COC they need to agree with each other on the preparation and the approach to the COC. At the conference in Beijing recently, China proposed a series of activities to commemorate 10 years of strategic partnership with ASEAN.

One of the proposals is holding a special conference of foreign ministers of ASEAN and China to discuss the general partnership strategy in order to how to further promote relations.

At the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brunei, the ASEAN Ministers welcomed this idea and the two sides will organize the meeting in the second half of 2013, maybe in August or September.

For ASEAN, the overall strategic partnership with China covers many areas, from politics, economy, trade cooperation to cope with the non-traditional security challenges, ensuring peaceful environment and security in the region, including the East Sea issue.

Therefore, this year, on the occasion of the celebration of 10 years of partnership, the two sides will also promote all areas of cooperation, in which the handling of the East Sea conflict. This is in the overall relations with China.

ASEAN wants together with China -- to maintain an environment of peace and stability in the East Sea.

Vietnam’s stance

In the context of the emerging developments in the East Sea recently, at the 22nd ASEAN Summit, what initiatives will Vietnam raise to promote peace and stability in the region?

With Vietnam, the most important thing is to ensure the environment of peace, stability and maritime safety and security in the East Sea. To achieve that, we certainly will continue to promote the implementation of the agreements that the parties have committed, such as the six-point statement of ASEAN, the DOC, the declaration of the 10th anniversary of DOC between ASEAN – China.

At the same time, we must implement international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), including the provisions of UNCLOS in respect of continental shelf and exclusive economic zones of coastal states. We have proposed it and we persever that stance. When you make an agreement or commitment, you have to implement it.

In that commitment, along with ensuring the compliance with international law and the UNCLOS, it is a must to restrain and do not make the situation more complicate and settle disputes by peaceful solutions while promoting trust building.

Xuan Linh
asean, china, coc, doc, negotiation, east sea, conflict, southeast asia