Informal China-ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting held in Beijing hinh anh 1Vietnamese Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh (Source : VNA)
The 5th informal China-ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting took place in Beijing on October 16, with both sides affirming the wish to strengthen defence cooperation.

ASEAN ministers said the ASEAN attaches importance to cooperation with China and want to promote result-oriented defence ties, particularly in humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

They stressed that peace and stability in the East Sea is of vital significance to regional security and expressed hope that China will join ASEAN in observing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and finalizing early a Code of Conduct.

Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan said China wants to work together with the ASEAN to maintain security and stability in the region.

He proposed building security mechanism to boost defence cooperation between China and ASEAN, particularly in the fields of humanitarian aid, disaster relief and the UN peacekeeping activities to enhance strategic trust.

He repeated Chinese leaders’ statement that China, however strong it may become, will not invade neighbouring countries in the region, adding that China hopes to solve disputes through negotiations and peaceful consultation while respecting navigation and aviation at the East Sea in line with international law.

Addressing the meeting, Vietnamese Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh emphasized that long-term, sustainable, inclusive, equal, and mutually beneficial cooperation with China is the desire and a priority goal of ASEAN member nations.

He noted that as a neighbor with shared border line and traditional friendship with China, Vietnam always attaches great importance to the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with China, and spares no efforts to nurture and promote the bilateral relationship.

The only outstanding issue between the two countries is the problems at sea, he said, adding that Vietnam’s consistent stance is to enhance win-win comprehensive cooperation with China and address disagreements via peaceful means on the basis of international law and in the spirit of the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues reached by senior leaders of both countries.

Both countries should work together to seek a solution acceptable to both sides, thus contributing to the maintenance of a peaceful and stable environment for mutual development and for the sake of both ASEAN and Vietnam, he said.

Minister Thanh made it clear that measures to build trust and enhance working capacity should be promoted towards comprehensive, sustainable and effective cooperation in security and defence.

He suggested holding regular dialogues, especially among high-level military delegations, and making international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNLOS) as the foundation to settle disputes in the East Sea.

The minister also urged observance of the Declaration on the Conducts of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and building of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), while refraining from using or threatening to use force, doing what you say you will do, and respecting mutual interests.

By doing so, misunderstanding and doubt will be eliminated, thus preventing miscalculation and risks of conflicts, he stressed.

Minister Thanh proposed ASEAN and China increase cooperation in building mechanisms to manage disputes and handle urgent situations on the basis of respecting existing bilateral commitments; and early establish a hotline between Defence Ministers of both sides.

He also said the bloc and China should increase coordination within the framework of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to enhance capacity for ASEAN countries in joining the UN peacekeeping activities, fighting terrorism and providing humanitarian and natural disaster aids.

Equally important is maintaining consultation and exchanges, especially on the sidelines of such events as ADMM, ADMM Retreat to share opinions on issues of mutual concerns and increase mutual understanding and seek cooperation opportunities for mutual benefits.

Last but not least, Minister Thanh called on marine law enforcement agencies of the ASEAN and China to support fishermen in distress at sea and treat them well on the ground of international law and the friendship between nations.

The same day, Minister Thanh attended the opening of the 6 th Xiangshan forum in China.-VNA