Foreign ministers from ASEAN member nations have achieved consensus on a framework agreement for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Vietnam Sea.
The agreement was reached during the opening date of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM 50) in Manila, the Philippines on Saturday.
The framework document is expected to be discussed between the foreign ministers of ASEAN and China on Sunday, said Robespierre Bolivar, acting spokesperson of the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, told the press after the meeting.
ASEAN is short for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is a political and economic organization whose members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
According to Spokesperson Bolivar, the COC framework is one of the significant results during the AMM 50 as it will provide a platform for the establishment of the Code of Conduct for the East Vietnam Sea.
Speaking with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Dr. Ha Anh Tuan, an expert on the East Vietnam Sea from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, stated there were two contradicting viewpoints regarding the decision.
The first point of view considered the framework agreement a formality, while the second opinion considered it a closer step to the signing of the COC, Tuan elaborated.
“Although I agree with the first perspective, the agreement is still a positive sign as it shows that ASEAN and China are willing to push forward their collaboration,” the expert stated.
During the gathering, the ASEAN delegates also conferred on several hot topics regarding regional and international issues, including new challenges to defense and security, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.
Against the backdrop of changes in worldwide situations, the officials agreed that all ASEAN member nations should tighten their relationship.
Regarding the situation in the East Vietnam Sea, they reiterated the importance of unity within ASEAN and the bloc’s central role.
All nations should have practical contributions to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region and oppose militarization and other activities that can escalate the disputes.
Speaking at the event, Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh asserted that Vietnam always supports the settlement of disputes via peaceful measures in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).