ASEAN military officers’ unanimous stance on security challenges hinh anh 1The ASEAN chiefs of defence forces at the meeting (Photo: VNA)

Vientiane (VNA) – The freshly-finished ASEAN Chiefs of Defence Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM) included the East Sea issue in its joint statement for the first time, showing the ASEAN military officers’ high consensus on growing security challenges in the region.

At the 13th ACDFIM in Vientiane, Laos on March 14, the heads of the participating delegations perceived the complication of such non-traditional security challenges as natural disasters, climate change, trans-national crime, human and drug trafficking, cyber security, navigation security and terrorism as threats to regional peace, stability, security and prosperity.

Additionally, the East Sea tensions are also posing challenges to regional stability, they said.

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).

Speaking at 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 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 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 the ASEAN member countries to have a unanimous stance on the East Sea matter.

Talking about the ACDFIM-13, Maj. Gen. Vu Tien Trong, Director of the Vietnamese Defence Ministry’s Institute for International Relations, said the participants of the meeting discussed regional security in a straightforward and objective manner, including terrorism in Southeast Asia and navigation security and safety in the East Sea.

The event’s joint statement stressed that all concerned parties must pledge to seriously carry out the DOC and work towards a COC, which was mentioned for the first time in the joint statement of an ACDFIM, he noted.-VNA