Vietnam wants early resumption of ASEAN-China talks on Bien Dong Sea code of conduct

Vietnam hopes for an early resumption of ASEAN-China negotiations on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea as requested by the Philippines last month.
October 02, 2020 | 09:03
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Spokesperson for the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang at Thursday's press briefing in Hanoi. (Photo: VNA)

According to Vietnam News, speaking at a press briefing in Hanoi on Thursday, spokesperson for the foreign ministry Le Thi Thu Hang was responding to reports of Philippines’ foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stating that the country is “pushing as hard as it can” for the substantial progress on the second reading of the negotiating draft and getting started on the COC before the country hands over the ASEAN-China country co-ordinator role to Myanmar next year.

"The resumption of negotiations for the COC following the interruption due to Covid-19 is a priority for ASEAN countries and China. Sharing the priority, Vietnam wishes to resume negotiations in documents with relevant countries, progressing to achieve a comprehensive and effective COC in accordance with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," Hang said.

Locsin had expressed his wish at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) held online on September 12, the Inquirer reported.

ASEAN countries and China finished their first reading of the draft code in the sea last year, while three readings are planned, with 2021 supposed to be the year when the code is fully fleshed out and hoped to resolve conflicts in the resource-rich waterway.

Also at the briefing, Ms. Le Thi Thu Hang remarks that China's reported live-fire drills in the Bien Dong Sea "jeopardize" peace and security in the region.

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China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of the South China Sea in a photo taken in December, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

The spokesperson said China's activities near the Hoang Sa archipelago are contrary to the spirit of the existing Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), complicate the situation and are not conducive to COC talks.

Also during the briefing, the Vietnamese spokesperson was asked on Vietnam’s stance towards three note verbales addressed to the UN by the UK, France, and Germany refuting China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea on September 16. “Vietnam's stance on the South China Sea has been consistently conveyed on many occasions,” she said, adding that all countries sharing the common aspiration to promote peace, stability, co-operation and development in the sea should “respect the legal order at sea, and fully observe with good faith and sense of responsibility UNCLOS 1982", Vietnam News quoted.

“In this spirit, together with ASEAN countries, Vietnam hopes that all countries, including ASEAN partners, would make meaningful contributions to the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the South China Sea and settle conflicts via dialogues and other peaceful measures in line with international law, to serve the mutual interests and aspirations of countries in the region and in the international community,” she noted.

The COC negotiations between ASEAN and China have been ongoing since 2002, aiming to build a legally binding document on the South China Sea, known in Vietnam as the East Sea. The most recent meeting regarding the COC was held in Vietnam's central city of Da Lat in October last year, with both sides agreeing on preparations for the second reading of the COC draft.

Discussions on the issue were supposed to continue at the bloc's Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) in July, but the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted these plans, VN Express cited.

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