The East Sea issue is a regional and global concern, Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh told the Vietnam News Agency on May 30, on the sidelines of the 14th Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore.

He said while the issue has attracted the concern of many countries ever since the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2010, this year there is a slightly difference in the approach for many reason, first of all the many reports on the change of status-quo on the East Sea, adding that just several days before the dialogue, it was also reported that China has taken the first step in militarizing artificial islands that the country was building illegally in the East Sea.

The deputy minister noted that during the Shangri-La Dialogue, almost all opinions, including those directly presented at the dialogue or at sideline meetings, mentioned the East Sea issue.

Participating parties were concerned about conflicts, violation of international law and big countries’ unfair behaviour towards small nations, he said, adding that all opinions expressed desires for an appropriate measure to prevent more complicated and serious developments from happening in the East Sea.

According to the officer, along with hope for peace and stability, participants put forward solutions along the general direction of seeking appropriate behaviours, ensuring no wrongful calculation, no infringement of international law and particularly preventing conflicts from arising.

He said all opinions called for a substantive Code of Conduct (COC), which should be able to ensure observance of international law and respect for the rights and interests of relevant countries.

“The general direction of the region and the world is similar to Vietnam’s basic viewpoint on the issue, which underlined the need to address all disputes by peaceful measures, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and in line with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), while together with the ASEAN and China striving for the COC”, the deputy defence minister said.

This year’s Shangri-La dialogue offered a venue for participants to discuss regional security, both traditional and non-traditional challenges, the minister said, stressing that all countries attending the dialogue wanted to contribute their opinions on ways to reduce security threats, with many voices calling for shifting from dialogue and talks to practical cooperation among countries in the Asian Pacific region, thus making the region more stable and peaceful.

Regarding Vietnam’s participant at the event, he said although not delivering a speech at the dialogue, the Vietnamese delegation paid close attention to the voice of all participants in various fields.

Besides, the delegation had a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the event to discuss emerging issues, including strategy and interference of world powers and the East Sea matter, he said.

Through the meetings, Vietnam got a better understanding about general trends in the region, while expressing the official views of the Party and State on current regional and international issues.

At the same time, Vietnam also focused on fostering bilateral partnership at the meetings, as well as specific measures to bolster ties with other countries, said Sen. Lieut. Gen. Vinh.

He revealed that during talks with China, the two sides discussed ways to realise commitments by the two Defence Ministers at their recent defence exchange, as well as a number of issues related to cooperation in personnel training and peace-keeping operation.

The two sides also looked at preparations for a defence dialogue at deputy ministerial level in Hanoi in September this year, which aims to strengthen bilateral relations and settle existing differences, especially maritime issues, he noted.

Vietnam has discussed with the Chinese side in a straightforward and honest manner the country’s concerns relating to the East Sea, while making constructive recommendations on how to avoid escalating tension, deputy minister Vinh said.

He went on to say that Vietnam has stressed that the East Sea issue should be settled on the basis of international law, and each side must well control their own behaviours, and the Chinese side has taken note of Vietnam’s stance.

Meanwhile, the bilateral meeting with the Philippine delegation took place at a remarkable time when naval soldiers of the two countries were playing friendship volleyball matches in Song Tu Tay island in Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, which, according to Sen. Lieut. Gen. Vinh, demonstrated that the militaries of both countries have maintained friendship even when they both claim sovereignty over Truong Sa.

During other meetings, the Vietnamese delegation reiterated the Party and State’s stance on East Sea issue, affirming that Vietnam stays steady in matters of principle, but is also practicing utmost restraint and avoiding actions to complicate the situation, the deputy defence minister said.-VNA