|Spokesperson for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng. — Photo from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs|
HÀ NỘI — The joint working group between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China recently concluded their 37th meeting on the implementation of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) on October 11-13.
Spokesperson for the Vietnamese foreign ministry, Lê Thị Thu Hằng, disclosed the information as she was asked for further clarifications on the bloc’s Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi's comment made on October 18 claiming that ASEAN and China are already done with the first reading of the draft of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), and are working on the second reading.
According to Hằng, in this meeting, ASEAN and China conducted a discussion on the situation in the South China Sea, the implementation of the DOC, the building of the COC, affirming the significance of peace, security, stability, freedom of navigation and overflight and the South China Sea.
The exercise of self-restraint, the avoidance of actions that may complicate the situation and the resolution of all disputes through peaceful means in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was also emphasised, Hằng said.
The spokesperson stressed that ASEAN and China also expressed the wish to soon finalise the second reading of the review for a single draft document of the COC, and to soon adopt a substantive, effective COC in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, contributing to the maintenance of peace, stability and security in the region, promoting cooperation and create a favourable environment for peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea.
According to the ASEAN Secretary-General, despite challenges, including the delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN member states and China have exerted efforts to resume their negotiations on COC and maintain the momentum of work, including utilising the virtual platform and video conference.
The joint working group has also resumed in-person discussions as both continue to reaffirm the aspiration to expedite the negotiations and work towards the early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC.
In the meantime, ASEAN will continue to work with China with due attention given to the confidence-building and preventive measure to enhance trust and confidence among parties in order to provide a conducive environment for the COC negotiations, he added. — VNS