22/03/2016 14:24 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

ASEAN Military Officers’ Unanimous Stance on the East Sea

The 13th ASEAN Chiefs of Defence Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM-13) commenced in Vientiane, Laos on March 14 under the theme “Promoting Defence Cooperation for a Dynamic ASEAN Community”. At the meeting, the ASEAN military officers agreed to include the East Sea issue in the joint statement for the first time, showing their high consensus on growing security challenges in the region. 
At the meeting, the ASEAN officers emphasised the need to maintain peace in the East Sea in order to promote peace, stability, economic growth and affluence in the region. Therefore, it is a must to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and expeditiously finalise a Code of Conduct in the waters (COC).

Addressing the meeting, General Do Ba Ty, Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, who led the Vietnamese delegation, pointed out that navigation and aviation security, safety and freedom in the East Sea is being challenged by actions that run counter to international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Those actions have direct and adverse impacts on people’s livelihoods and security in the region.

He added that it is necessary to increase building trust among military forces that operate at sea and in the air over the East Sea, on the basis of international norms and regional commitments, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the DOC.

Sharing the same view, Romeo Tanalgo – head of the Philippine delegation, said that a code of conduct between ASEAN and China will considerably help reduce the risk of armed conflicts in the East Sea and bring about solutions to disputes in line with internationally recognised principles.  He also called on ASEAN member countries to have a unanimous stance on the East Sea matter.

ASEAN military officers pose for a photo at the opening ceremony of ACDFIM-13. Photo: Pham Kien/VNA

Panoramic view of ACDFIM-13. Photo: Pham Kien/VNA

General Do Ba Ty, Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army. Photo: Pham Kien/VNA

Defense chiefs of 10 ASEAN countries sign the joint statement of the meeting. Photo: Pham Kien/VNA

ASEAN defense chiefs show their consensus after the signing ceremony of the Joint Statement.
Photo: Pham Kien/VNA

General Do Ba Ty, Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army has a bilateral meeting with
Souvone Leuangbounmy, Chief of the General Staff of the Lao People’s Army, on the sidelines of the meeting.

At the end of the event, the heads of participating delegations signed a joint statement of ACDFIM-13, which mentions many regional security issues, including the necessity of strictly implementing the DOC and the early completion of the COC to maintain a peaceful environment in the East Sea. It is considered a historical decision because it marked for the first time since its establishment that ASEAN military officers came to a consensus on the stance of the East Sea.

Talking about  ACDFIM-13, Maj. Gen. Vu Tien Trong, Director of the Vietnamese Defense Ministry’s Institute for International Relations, said that it is the first time in history that the ASEAN military officers have made unanimous stance on the East Sea issue and it is the newest point of the meeting.

In the context when there are nations which are ignoring international opinions, going against  international law and unceasingly have escalated acts in the East Sea, that ACDFIM-13 included the East Sea in its joint statement is considered a great significant change which is hoped for making a considerable contribution to maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and the world.