The East Sea (internationally known as South China Sea) issue was once again high on the agenda of the 15th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore as many officials clarified China’s unilateral actions that have provoked tensions and their corollary.
The Shangri-La Dialogue takes place in Singapore.
At a special session on managing East Sea tensions on June 4, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Public Security Bui Van Nam said Vietnam has clearly shown methods and measures for resolving complicated issues in the East Sea. It has asked the countries relevant to the East Sea, including the ASEAN member nations and others in the world, to respect international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, adhere to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) signed by China and the ASEAN countries, and push for a detailed and practical code of conduct (COC) in the waters.
He stressed Vietnam owns sufficient legal and historical foundations and has reached agreements on sea and territory-related matters with many countries.
The unilateral actions, which have been changing the status quo in the East Sea, have run counter to the DOC and international law, fuelled tensions, eroded trust, and jeopardised peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea.
Nam noted his country welcomes and supports positive and legal actions of all countries that help maintain regional peace and safety while ensuring free travelling at sea, maritime safety, regional security, overflight safety, safety of cyberspace on air, safety under the sea, and safety of the marine environment.
Vietnam pledges to actively join other ASEAN nations and countries around the globe in ensuring regional security through regional and international forums such as the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
The Deputy Minister demanded the involved parties to actively seek ways to minimise risks and encounters at sea such as setting up hotlines and jointly devising conducts for unplanned situations. He highlighted the proposed joint patrol mechanism among naval and law enforcement forces of the ASEAN members.
Vietnam calls for more attention to international cooperation mechanisms in less sensitive sea-related domains, including sea environment protection, response to natural disasters, search and rescue, and fighting crimes committed at sea.
It advocates the active exchange and sharing of information within ASEAN, and between ASEAN countries and partners like the US, China, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea, Australia and India so as to maintain peace and stability in Southeast Asia, as well as Asia – Pacific, Nam said.
Speaking to foreign reporters at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh, who leads the Vietnamese delegation to the event, said the recent complicated issue in the East Sea has drawn more and more interest from around the world, and almost all nations want a peaceful environment in this region.
Military actions or those that prepare for military actions in the East Sea need special attention from the international community, or else the situation there will get worse.
Vietnam wants the concerned nations to work out measures for easing tensions in the region, not letting East Sea tensions become conflicts, and developing peacefully together, he emphasised.
In response to a question of Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper that China often declares cooperation with the ASEAN countries but keeps reclaiming reefs in the East Sea, Vinh said those actions have damaged China’s image, and other nations should raise a common voice expressing concern over those actions by China.
Vietnam calls on nations to jointly settle differences
Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh.
Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh called on nations to increase cooperation to settle differences and prevent conflicts while delivering a speech at the fourth plenary session of the 15th Shangri-La Dialogue concluded in Singapore on June 5.
He said the regional security is threatened by terrorism, nuclear proliferation, territorial and border disputes, marine security, and other growing non-traditional security challenges.
In that context, it is necessary to enhance multinational collaboration, build mutual trust, respect for legitimate rights, and achieve common viewpoints and interests to jointly address disputes, he said.
According to Senior Lieutenant General Vinh, either cooperation or competition, the involved parties must respect the principle of equality and international law, regarding them as the standards to peacefully resolve disputes and minimise the escalation of conflict, without use forces or threat to use forces.
The Shangri-La Dialogue as well as other important security forums offers a brilliant opportunity for countries to seek measures to settle disputes to maintain peace, stability in the region and the world, he said, highlighting the central role of ASEAN in the field.
Regarding tensions in the East Sea, Vinh reiterated Vietnam’s standpoint to resolutely defend the country’s independence and sovereignty. The country’s core principle is maximising cooperation and competition for development as well as dispute settlement, he said.
He added that Vietnam has the policy to strengthen cooperation with China and other countries to build and consolidate trust while constructively engaging in frank debates to search for common strategic interests.