Government officials and experts of ASEAN countries and China are meeting in Hanoi to seek measures to intensify cooperation in search and rescue of distressed fishermen and vessels in the East Sea.

Opened on June 19, the two-day event is a part of the ASEAN-China working plan on guiding the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC). The plan was adopted in Beijing, China, in January 2012.

At the opening ceremony, Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh underscored the importance of DOC in maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea.

A milestone document between ASEAN and China, DOC shows the two sides’ mutual commitments to abiding by international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

It also conveys the two sides’ pledges to observe the principles of refraining from complicating the situation, not using or threatening to use force and solving disputes peacefully, Deputy Minister Vinh said.

He stated that fully executing DOC and working together to soon build the Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC) help establish trust and ensure peace and maritime security, safety and freedom.

Regarding the situation in the East Sea, Vinh spoke of implicit risks to fishermen that may be triggered by weather and even humans, urging ASEAN and China to set out cooperation policies and measures to coordinate search and rescue activities when they are significant in terms of humanitarian issue and trust building.

A littoral nation, Vietnam attaches much importance to fostering regional cooperation in searching and rescuing distressed fishermen and vessels at sea. While undertaking the chair of ASEAN in 2010, Vietnam put forth initiatives in the field, which gained ASEAN member states’ support, and ASEAN adopted the Declaration on Cooperation in Search and Rescue Persons and Vessels in Distress at Sea, Vinh noted.

Apart from looking into the current search and rescue situation and the need to develop joint measures supporting distressed fishermen and vessels in the East Sea, participants will make specific recommendations to increase cooperation in the field.

These would contribute to strengthening the peaceful, stable and orderly environment in the East Sea and building trust between ASEAN and China in the context that disputes on sovereignty and sovereignty right in the East Sea are yet settled completely.-VNA