Last updated: Monday, May 20, 2013
ASEAN-China: Early Negotiation on COCPosted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
From July 8 – 13, 2012 in Phnom Penh, there was a series of meetings of Foreign Ministers on South East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ), 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM-45), ASEAN+3, East Asia Summit (EAS), 19th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF-19), ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meetings with Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, India, EU, New Zealand, Russia and the US. On the same occasion, Meetings of Mekong Region Foreign Ministers were also convened with Japan and Republic of Korea, as well as Meeting of Lower Mekong Region Foreign Ministers with the United States. Vietnam Business Forum had an interview with Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh on the meetings. Thu Huyen reports.
How do you evaluate the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting?
The meeting took place in the context of regional and world situation with favourable conditions for peace, development and stability as well as difficulties and complexities. Therefore AMM-45 this time must set the trend for settlement of the issues regarding the establishment of ASEAN Community, promoting relationship with partners and tackling current issues in the region including the East Sea. In the course of AMM-45 and meetings with partners, emphasis was made on highest determination and support to ASEAN in the establishment of ASEAN Community. It serves as a firm foundation for ASEAN. Partner countries shared the view that a strong ASEAN would ensure peace and stability in the region and promote cooperation with other countries.
For its part, ASEAN should be proactive in its role in developing and ensuring peace, security and stability for the development of the region. The Ministers have reached agreement on a number of issues.
First, international law must be implemented including respect for national independence and sovereignty; disputes must be solved by peaceful means without the use of force.
Second, ASEAN should promote the role of instruments, means and forums relating to political, security and regional cooperation for development, especially South East Asia Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), SEANWFZ, Declaration of Conduct of the parties in the East Sea (DOC), as well as ASEAN ARF, ASEAN + 1, ASEAN + 3, EAS and enlarged Meeting of ASEAN Defence Ministers.
Third, ASEAN should increase its coordination as well as cooperation with partners to develop and share norms regulating actions of countries in the region for common goals of peace, stability, cooperation and development of the region.
And the last but not the least, it is an opportunity for ASEAN to discuss with partners to deepen and expand the partnership for regional stability and development.
At AMM-45, partner countries have pledged their support for the establishment of ASEAN Community, the central role of ASEAN as well as greater assistance and cooperation for the joint efforts of the region.
How is the issue concerning the East Sea and COC, what is the next step to make COC a reality?
The East Sea was the common concern of all ministers at the conference, meetings of ASEAN Foreign Ministers and those between ASEAN and partners. All countries expressed grave concern over recent developments in the East Sea, especially incidents relating to encroachments of continental shelves and exclusive economic zones of coastal states inconsistent with the spirit and regulations of UNCLOS. At the meetings, Vietnam and other countries emphasized on the respect for international law, UNCLOS, especially provisions of UNCLOS on continental selves and exclusive economic zones of coastal states, peaceful settlement of disputes and non-use of force, as well as the need to implement fully and effectively Declaration on Conduct in the East Sea (DOC). Presently, ASEAN has received the sympathy of many countries to promote an early achievement of Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) with binding commitments to ensure effectively peace, stability, security and maritime safety in the East Sea, in compliance with international law and UNCLOS.
ASEAN has also discussed elements of COC. Since November last year, ASEAN has started the discussion on the issue so as to promote peace, stability, security and maritime safety in the East Sea. By June 25, at ASEAN SOM meeting in Vietnam, main elements of COC have been achieved. At AMM-45, SOM proposals have been accepted by the Ministers. Therefore, ASEAN decided to conduct consultations with China to develop COC. ASEAN has also developed basic elements for the negotiation, first of all, principles embodied in DOC in compliance with international law and UNCLOS. Furthermore, to ensure better security and maritime safety in the East Sea, COC must be superior to DOC in both substances and binding clauses.
The negotiation was focused on the following points:
First, COC must create a framework for more binding and commitments to ensure compliance of the parties to international law and UNCLOS.
Second, there must be mechanism to ensure the supervision and implementation of the commitments in DOC.
Third, basic elements must be taken from positive provisions of DOC at the same time ensuring mechanism to deal with encroachments on the basis of international law, peaceful settlement and UNCLOS.
According to schedule, after ASEAN Foreign Ministers accept recommendations of SOM reached in Hanoi on June 25, ASEAN will approach China. Consequently, at AMM-45, ASEAN presented its proposal and China promised to consider it most seriously and would discuss with ASEAN on appropriate timing to start it this year. From now to the time of start-off, ASEAN will continue the discussion with China to prepare for necessary steps to start the negotiation on COC. For ASEAN and Vietnam, COC negotiation is the sooner the better.
How is the contribution of Vietnam to AMM-45 and in the role as coordinator of ASEAN-China relations?
Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh headed the Vietnamese delegation to the conference with dominating task of making positive and responsible contributions to the questions of high priorities. Vietnamese contributions have been highly appreciated by other countries for enhancing the unity, linkage and commitments among ASEAN to achieve the goal of establishing ASEAN Community in 2015 so that ASEAN could develop further in the following years. The second task is to promote ASEAN role in the promotion of peace, security and stability in the region. It is essential for both for the development of ASEAN Community and regional development. The third task is to develop the central role of ASEAN in regional forum and join hands to solve current challenges, including political, security, economic, environment, natural disaster, diseases and terrorism. To be successful, ASEAN must make greatest efforts and gain support and assistance from partners and deepen the relations for common goals.
At AMM-45, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has also concluded the term of office of three year of Vietnam as coordinator for ASEAN-China relations. ASEAN-China relations have developed vigorously in all fields, political, economic, trade, investment, cultural, education, science and technology. Progress has also been made in promotion of confidence building, consultation to implement DOC. The contributions of Vietnam as coordinator have been highly appreciated by other countries.