​The ASEAN and Chinese leaders perform a ceremonial action at the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations (Photo: VNA)

Vientiane (VNA) – ASEAN leaders continue to voice deep concerns about the East Sea situation in the Chairman’s Statement of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits, which was issued on September 7 afternoon.

The statement said at the 28th and 29th summits, held in Laos’s Vientiane, the regional leaders had constructive and cordial discussions to craft the future direction for ASEAN, mentioning an array of issues from economy-society, politics and security, community building, to internal and external relations.

Notably, the Chairman’s Statement featured a particular section for the East Sea issue, which said the regional leaders remain seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments and take note of the concerns expressed by some leaders on the land reclamations and escalation of activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.

They reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the East Sea.

The leaders also “further reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)”.

The ASEAN leaders emphasised the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the East Sea.

They underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) in its entirety.

In the statement, the leaders noted the momentum and new phase of consultations, and urged all parties to work expeditiously for the early adoption of an effective Code of Conduct (COC), including through increasing the frequency of ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meetings and Joint Working Group Meetings on the Implementation of the DOC.

They highlighted the urgency to intensify efforts to achieve further substantive progress in the implementation of the DOC in its entirety as well as substantive negotiations for the early conclusion of the COC including the outline and timeline of the COC.

“Pursuant to the full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety, and pending the early adoption of an effective COC, we stressed the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence amongst parties,” the statement read.

The leaders welcomed the adoption of the joint statement of the foreign ministers of ASEAN member states and China on the full and effective implementation of the DOC.

According to the statement, they also welcomed the Joint Statement on the Application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the East Sea and the Guidelines for Hotline Communications among senior officials of the foreign ministries of the ASEAN countries and China in response to maritime emergencies in the implementation of the DOC, which were adopted at the 19th ASEAN-China Summit to commemorate the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations on September 7.-VNA