May 19, 2023
QUẢNG NINH — The 20th ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea (SOM-DOC) was held in the northern province of Quảng Ninh on Wednesday after nearly two years of hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) convened a meeting to coordinate their stances.
Ambassador Vũ Hồ, Acting Head of ASEAN SOM Việt Nam, led a Vietnamese delegation to the meetings.
The 20th SOM-DOC was co-chaired by Myanmar, coordinator of ASEAN-China ties, and China.
Speaking at the event, Hồ stressed Việt Nam’s view that as the East Sea (Việt Nam’s name for the South China Sea) is a crucial maritime route of the world, maintaining and promoting peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in this sea is not only the shared interest and responsibility of ASEAN and China but also reflects their responsibility towards the international community.
Given the complex situation and ongoing unilateral actions that violate international law in the East Sea, the ambassador suggested that countries should combine “words with deeds” by translating political commitments into specific and appropriate actions in the field.
In such spirit, he highlighted the need to use international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as a “lodestar” for activities in the East Sea.
While striving to achieve a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) that is practical, effective and conformable with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS, and supported by the international community, Hồ said countries must seriously and fully abide by all the provisions of the DOC. These efforts would contribute to creating a favourable environment for COC negotiations, he added.
Delegates attending the event spoke highly of positive results in the DOC implementation over the past time. They urged ASEAN and China to seriously, fully and effectively observe all the provisions of the DOC.
They reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea while respecting principles such as exercising self-restraint, refraining from the use or threat to use force, and peacefully settling disputes in line with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS.
The 20th SOM-DOC acknowledged progress in the COC negotiations and discussed orientations to the process carried out by the Joint Working Group on the DOC (JWG DOC).
The countries emphasised the need to achieve an effective and practical COC that is conformable with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS, contributing to trust building and more efficient management of incidents in the South China Sea.
The participants agreed to hold the 21st SOM-DOC in China in the fourth quarter of 2023. — VNS