MANILA, Philippines – Military chiefs of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pushed for peace in the disputed South China Sea, as they also stressed the need to avoid moves “that may complicate the situation.”
The military chiefs made this statement after the ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM) held in Singapore on Thursday, March 8.
The chiefs reaffirmed “the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea, as well as the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may complicate the situation.”
They also emphasized the importance of “a peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law,” according to a statement by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (READ: ASEAN 2017: A wasted opportunity for the West Philippine Sea)
The Philippines owns the rights over part of the South China Sea, called the West Philippine Sea, within the Southeast Asian country’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Terrorism, disaster response tackled: After their meeting in Singapore, heads of defense forces also spoke of a “Resilience, Response, Recovery” framework to deter terrorist attacks in the region.
The military chiefs then agreed to work on the “operationalization of mechanisms to enhance ASEAN responses to natural disasters, such as the ASEAN Military Ready Group (AMRG).” (READ: How climate change affects ASEAN affairs)