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ASEAN, China meet informally in Beijing

Update: October, 17/2015 - 09:17
The 5th informal China-ASEAN defence ministers' meeting took place in Beijing yesterday. — Photo qdnd.vn
BEIJING  (VNS) — The 5th informal China-ASEAN defence ministers' meeting took place in Beijing yesterday with both sides affirming the wish to strengthen defence co-operation.

ASEAN ministers said the ASEAN attaches importance to co-operation with China and wants to promote result-oriented defence ties, particularly in humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

They stressed that peace and stability in the East Sea is of vital significance to regional security and expressed hope that China would join ASEAN in observing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and finalizing a Code of Conduct.

Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan said China wanted to work with the ASEAN to maintain security and stability in the region.

He proposed a security mechanism to boost defence co-operation between China and ASEAN, particularly in the fields of humanitarian aid, disaster relief and the UN peacekeeping activities.

He repeated Chinese leaders' statement that China, however strong it may become, would not invade neighbouring countries in the region, adding that China hoped to solve disputes through negotiation and peaceful consultation while respecting navigation and aviation at the East Sea in line with international law.

Addressing the meeting, Viet Nam's Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh emphasized that long-term, sustainable, inclusive, equal, and mutually beneficial co-operation with China is the desire of ASEAN member nations.

He noted that as a neighbour with a shared border and traditional friendship with China, Viet Nam attached great importance to partnership with China.

The only outstanding issue between the two countries was the problems at sea, he said, adding that Viet Nam's consistent stance was to enhance win-win co-operation with China and address disagreements via peaceful means on the basis of international law and in the spirit of the agreement reached by senior leaders of the two countries on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues.

Both countries should work together to seek a solution acceptable to both sides, thus contributing to the maintenance of a peaceful and stable environment for mutual development and for the sake of both ASEAN and Viet Nam, he said.

He made it clear that measures to build trust and enhance working capacity should be promoted towards comprehensive, sustainable and effective co-operation in security and defence.

Minister Thanh suggested holding regular dialogues, especially among high-level military delegations, and making international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNLOS) the foundation to settle disputes in the East Sea.

The minister also urged observance of the Declaration on the Conducts of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and building of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), while refraining from using or threatening to use force, doing what you say you will do, and respecting mutual interests.

By doing so, misunderstandings will be eliminated, thus preventing miscalculation and conflicts, he stressed.

Minister Thanh proposed ASEAN and China increase co-operation in building mechanisms to manage disputes and handle urgent situations on the basis of respecting existing bilateral commitments; and establishing a hotline between Defence Ministers of both sides.

He also said the bloc and China should increase co-ordination within the framework of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM+) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to enhance capacity for ASEAN countries in joining UN peacekeeping activities, fighting terrorism and providing humanitarian and natural disaster aid.

Equally important is maintaining consultation and exchanges, especially on the sidelines of such events as ADMM, ADMM Retreat to share opinions on issues of mutual concerns and increase mutual understanding and seek co-operation opportunities.

Last but not least, Minister Thanh called on marine law enforcement agencies of the ASEAN and China to support fishermen in distress at sea and treat them well on the grounds of international law.

The same day, Minister Thanh attended the opening of the 6th Xiangshan forum in China. — VNS

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