|Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh (second, right) joins hands with his counterparts and the Secretary-General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh (first, right) at the eighth ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM-8) in Myanmar yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Bao Trung
HA NOI (VNS) — Defence Minister, General Phung Quang Thanh, has reiterated Vietnam's policy of protecting national sovereignty by peaceful measures.
Thanh said this was done by respecting international law to maintain peace, stability, security and safety of navigation in the East Sea.
The minister briefed participants at the eighth ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM-8) in Myanmar yesterday amidst concerns about China's illegal placement of a drilling rig in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
He added that Viet Nam was determined to keep political stability in the country and maintain friendship and comprehensive cooperation with China.
Thanh said Viet Nam had requested dialogue with the Chinese side at different levels, including through people-to-people diplomatic channels, in the desire to get both sides to exercise restraint and avoid military conflict.
He also said Viet Nam did not use aircraft, missile carrying ships or frogmen to attack or destroy the Chinese rig, adding that Vietnamese law-enforcement ships, including those from the Coast Guard and Fisheries Surveillance, had not rammed or fired water cannons on Chinese vessels.
General Thanh said that some extremists had made use of the events to destroy the property of foreign firms, which went beyond the wishes of either Viet Nam or China.
He said Viet Nam would punish the violators and not allow the incident to affect its investment environment or the friendship between the people of the two countries.
"The Vietnamese Government is taking measures to ensure security and absolute safety for foreign citizens and enterprises in the country," he said, adding that affected firms had resumed operations.
ASEAN Defence Ministers yesterday adopted a work programme for 2014-16 and signed a joint declaration on defence co-operation.
A joint declaration said ASEAN defence ministers supported ASEAN Summit 24, which was recently concluded in Myanmar. It called for all sides to respect the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and ASEAN's six-point principles on the East Sea.
The ministers agreed that a direct communications link between themselves should be established and that countries refrain from violent acts.
They also called on parties not to use force or conduct activities that could intensify tensions, while highlighting the need to form a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) at an early date.
The ministers reiterated the group's commitment to reinforcing defence co-operation towards the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015.
They suggested measures to build trust, including forming more hotlines and collecting commitments not to use force among ASEAN countries.
Participants were briefed of the group's all-round development by General Secretary Le Luong Minh.
According to Minh, the seventh ASEAN-China senior officials' meeting on the implementation of the DOC in Thailand in April stressed the need to fully implement the DOC.
Both sides affirmed the need of early finalising the COC.
On the sidelines of the event, the Vietnamese Minister had bilateral meetings with the Defence Ministers of China, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Minister of Energy of Brunei.— vns