Senior officials of ASEAN and China held the 15th meeting on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) in Hunan province, China, on June 27.
Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Secretary of the Singaporean Foreign Ministry Chee Wee Kiong co-chaired the meeting (SOM-DOC 15).
Earlier, the 24th meeting of the ASEAN-China Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the DOC (JWG-DOC 24) took place on June 25 and 26.
These meetings aimed to review the DOC implementation and the negotiation on a Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC) and specify the next activities on these issues.
The JWG-DOC 24 discussed details of the COC and clarified the principles and the next activities of the JWG-DOC. They agreed that the JWG-DOC will regularly report the progress and outcomes to the SOM-DOC and the ASEAN-China Post Ministerial Conference (PMC).
Meanwhile, the SOM-DOC 15 looked into the realisation of the DOC and affirmed the importance of full compliance with this document to maintain dialogue and cooperation for peace and stability in the East Sea.
They underscored the need to promote trust building measures in the DOC implementation, both in the field and in cooperation activities, thus creating a favourable environment for the COC negotiation.
At the meeting, officials also detailed the DOC implementation plan for 2016-2018.
Regarding the content of the COC, the SOM-DOC 15 applauded the negotiations at the JWG-DOC 24 and the previous meeting in Nha Trang city of Vietnam in March 2018. Participants also discussed the COC and methods for negotiating this document and talked about the next steps and content to be reported to the ASEAN-China PMC in Singapore next August.
Addressing the SOM-DOC 15, head of the Vietnamese delegation - Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, reiterated the importance of the DOC’s implementation to maintaining peace, stability and security in the region. He welcomed some outcomes of the DOC’s implementation.
However, he voiced concern about island reclamation and the military equipment installation and testing on disputed structures in the East Sea, noting these activities run counter to the DOC’s principles and adversely affect COC negotiations.
Dung called on relevant parties to exercise self-restraint, refrain from actions that can complicate the situation, thus creating a favourable environment for the COC negotiations.
In terms of building the COC, the Deputy Minister renewed Vietnam’s viewpoints on this document. He said the COC needs to be enforceable and legally binding while serving as a tool regulating relevant parties’ behaviours in the East Sea. It must also be in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
ASEAN and China agreed to hold the next JWG-DOC meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in early September this year.