While the situation in the South China Sea is not as tense as it has sometimes been before, China has kept consolidating its position.
At the 51st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM 51) in Singapore earlier this month, Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan announced that ASEAN and China have successfully adopted a single draft negotiating text on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (COC).
This adoption, only achieved after years of negotiation between them, is among the significant positive developments in the situation, according to a Vietnamese Foreign Ministry official, who asked to remain unnamed.
Speaking to VnExpress, the official said that compared to previous meetings AMM 51 also saw all ASEAN members finally agree on noting their concerns on the land reclamations and activities in the troubled waters.
These activities have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and could undermine peace, security and stability in the region, ASEAN members noted in their joint communique.
They also agreed to maintain ASEAN’s central role in the region.
“This shows the interest of ASEAN members in the situation in the East Sea, and the return of ASEAN as a collective with all 10 countries showing interest in this issue,” the official said, using the Vietnam’s name for the waterway.