Singaporean Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. (Photo: AFP)

Hanoi (VNA) – There is a firm basis for ASEAN helping settle disputes involving several of its member states and China in the East Sea, said Singaporean Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

There is no ignoring the fact that the East Sea is an international gate way, the defence official told reporters on the occasion of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day (July 1).

Mentioning the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) signed by ASEAN and China in 2002, Minister Ng said the document, which details ways to approach problems in the sea, indicates that ASEAN is “already involved”.

Speaking of the upcoming ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague on the case the Philippines brought against China’s claims in the East Sea, he warned that the ruling may escalate actions and reactions, so concerned parties should be watchful.

Newly-elected Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte said on June 30 that he “would not really taunt or flaunt it” if the ruling is in favour of the Philippines.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA