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ASEAN calls against complicating situation on Bien Dong Sea

Valerie Mai Valerie Mai

mnghonganh@gmail.com

April 08, 2021 | 15:12

ASEAN acknowledges concerns about the recent complicated developments in the Bien Dong Sea ( internationally called South China Sea), requiring actors to restraint, take no action to complicate the situation, and uphold the international law.

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ASEAN calls against complicating situation on Bien Dong Sea
Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung (Photo: VN Express)

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, Head of SOM ASEAN Vietnam led the Vietnamese delegation to the virtual ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on April 7, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The meeting noted concerns about recent complicated developments in the South China Sea, including threats, coercion, and violation of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). ASEAN emphasized the principle stance, required countries to restraint, take no action to complicate the situation, and uphold the international law, continue the implementation of the DOC, gradually resume negotiation to develop the COC in accordance with international law and UNCLOS 1982.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung shared his concerns about recent complicated developments in the Bien Dong Sea. He suggested ASEAN maintain solidarity and principled stance, attempting to negotiate an effective COC.

Countries consented to continuing to control the pandemic, combining overcoming pandemic consequences and promoting economic recovery. ASEAN would focus on implement plans to overcome the pandemic, support development in remote regions, and the most seriously affected groups. The association stated to spend USD10,5 million from Covid-19 Response Fund to buy vaccines and contribute to the ASEAN medical supply stockpile. ASEAN countries discussed setting up the ASEAN travel corridor, shared the need to ensure equality in vaccine access, as well as spoke out against "vaccine nationalism".

ASEAN calls against complicating situation on Bien Dong Sea
The meeting took place virtually. (Photo: VN Express)

As for Myanmar's situation, ASEAN countries consented that the past complicated development, including the increasing violence and death, not only affect Myanmar but also worsen ASEAN's cooperation, solidarity, image, and credit. The countries agreed that all efforts should be continued to help Myanmar through this difficult time.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung affirmed that Vietnam supported the ASEAN method application on approaching Myanmar's situation. As a UNSC non-permanent member, Vietnam has informed the Council about ASEAN's effort in supporting Myanmar. With its presidency in April, Vietnam will take proactive steps at the UNSC to actively inform the council about ASEAN's activities.

The meeting also reached the fact that more than 200 Chinese ships anchored at a reef in Sinh Ton Dong group, which belongs to Vietnam's Spratly archipelago since March 7, turning on the lights all night without fishing despite favorable weather. The Philippines has reported this news since March 21 and has accused China's maritime militia of such action. The Chinese Embassy in Manila later argued that the ships were "just sheltering from bad weather".

Philippine officials then reacted strongly, even sending a Foreign Ministry's statement which said that Manila would speak out in protest every day until Beijing withdrew all its ships. As of April 3, the Philippines said there were still more than 40 Chinese ships present in the area. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 6 blatantly claimed that this country's fleet had the right to shelter in the Truong Sa's reef "for thousands of years".

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang has affirmed that China has violated Vietnam's sovereignty while asking it to end the violation on March 25, saying “Vietnam has sufficient legal and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in accordance with international law. As a littoral nation and a member of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the country is entitled to enjoy sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over its territorial waters, established by the convention.”

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Valerie Mai