Vietnam stresses South China Sea security issues at ASEAN meeting

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SINGAPORE — Security challenges in the South China Sea are “always present,” Vietnam’s foreign minister said Wednesday as the country hosts a four-day series of virtual ministerial meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its key partners including China and the U.S.
Speaking at an opening ceremony, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said that “factors threatening peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the South China Sea” are among challenges the region faces, an apparent criticism against Beijing’s increasing activities in the area.
The remarks came ahead of a series of online meetings as the U.S. and China engage in an intense maritime tug of war. The ASEAN Regional Forum is scheduled for Saturday, the final day.
“ASEAN will persistently hold onto its principled position, emphasizing self-restraints, peaceful settlement of all disputes on the basis of international law, including 1982 UNCLOS, promoting dialogues, strengthening confidence building, non-militarization and refrain from further complicating the situation,” Minh stressed, referring to the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea.
The 10 nation group will persistently promote “the full and serious implementation of the [Declaration of Conduct]” and will “endeavor to formulate an effective, substantive [code of conduct],” he added. ASEAN and China has been negotiating over a code of conduct, which has yet to be concluded.
While the South China Sea is among top issues to be discussed at the meetings, regional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have also emerged as a key agenda item.
Minh noted that the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is still looming and that ASEAN will “proactively contain the pandemic through prevention measures, development of accessible vaccines and medications” and “undertake early and effective actions to support the people and businesses.”

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/South-China-Sea/Vietnam-stresses-South-China-Sea-security-issues-at-ASEAN-meeting

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