PM suggests ASEAN increase external relations hinh anh 1Leaders take photo at the 19th ASEAN-China Summit (Photo: VNA)
Vientiane (VNA) – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc underlined the significance of strengthening cooperation between ASEAN and external partners to the building of the ASEAN Community and realisation of the 2025 Vision when attending the 29th ASEAN Summit and ASEAN+1 Summits with China and Japan in Vientiane, Laos, on September 7.

He pointed to factors decisive to the bloc’s successful external relations, which are self-reliance and growth of each member state, the strengthening of solidarity and unity in the bloc, and the ability to harmonise interests of each ASEAN member country, the ASEAN as a whole and the association’s partners.

The PM said the thriving rapport between ASEAN and China has brought mutual benefits and now constitutes a leading factor for regional peace, security and prosperity.

He suggested the two sides increase political and strategic trust in the coming time while promoting comprehensive and pragmatic collaboration, addressing all differences and disputes via peaceful means on the basis of international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

At the same time, the two sides should bolster their partnership in trade, investment and connectivity, tourism, cultural and people-to-people exchanges along with intensifying cooperation to respond to climate change, terrorism, crime, diseases, and natural disasters, including the sustainable use and management of water resources in the Mekong River, PM Phuc said.

He confirmed Vietnam treasures relations with China and will do its utmost to coordinate with other ASEAN member countries to propel ASEAN-China relationship forward.

To promote ASEAN-Japan relations, the PM suggested the two sides prioritise boosting economics-trade-investment links and soon conclude negotiations on the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (AJCEP) to realise the target of doubling bilateral trade and investment by 2022.

He proposed increasing infrastructure connectivity and facilitating investment and business activities.

PM Phuc highly valued Japan’s commitment to prioritising ASEAN in its “Partnership for Quality Infrastructure” initiative worth 200 billion USD.

He said he hopes Japan will continue to help ASEAN small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) improve capacity in terms of market access, capital and technology.

At the same time, stronger connection in education-training, cultural and people-to-people exchanges will create a long-term foundation for the bilateral relations, he said.

Highlighting the targets of the ASEAN Chapter and ASEAN Community Vision 2025, PM Phuc said the ultimate goal is to maintain peace, security and stability in the region. He added that all countries in the region and the international community must share the responsibility for preserving peace, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea.

Mentioning recent developments, the PM said Vietnam hopes ASEAN and China will work together to address satisfactorily arising problems toward a new period of peace, cooperation and development. He called on the involved parties to restrain from actions that could complicate the situation; abide by international law, including the UNCLOS 1982; seriously implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC); and work for the early formation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

The PM welcomed ASEAN and China’s agreement on the application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the East Sea and the establishment of hotlines between foreign ministries to address emergencies at sea.

He proposed the two sides strive to complete the COC in 2017 on the occasion of the 15 th anniversary of the signing of the DOC and the 50 th founding anniversary of ASEAN.

At the 29 th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN leaders discussed the bloc’s relations with external partners and regional and international issues of mutual concerns, including terrorism, extremism, cybercrime, climate change and diseases, especially Zika virus, and the situation in the East Sea and Korean peninsula.

The leaders proposed specific measures to increase competitiveness of ASEAN businesses, further facilitate trade and investment activities, and develop the labour market and tourism in the context of regional and global economic downturn.

They stressed the significance of maintaining peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation and over-flight in the region, settling peacefully disputes based on respect for international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, implementing seriously the DOC, and soon reaching a COC in the East Sea.

The summit also stressed the strengthening of solidarity and unity of ASEAN and the bloc’s central role in relations with foreign partners as well as in handling challenges and formulating a regional rule-based architecture.

At the 19 th ASEAN-China Summit which also marked the 25 years of their dialogue partnership, the two sides’ leaders expressed their pleasure at the significant strides in bilateral ties over the past 25 years.

China remains the biggest trade partner of ASEAN with two-way trade reaching 346.4 billion USD in 2015. It is also the fourth largest investor of ASEAN with investment of 8.2 billion USD in 2015. The two sides have set the target of 1 trillion USD in bilateral trade and 150 billion USD in investment in 2020.

Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in natural disaster management, environmental protection, climate change adaptation, health care, education, water resources management, and in coping with such challenges as terrorism, cybercrime, and human and drug trafficking.

Chinese leaders said they treasure relations with ASEAN and support its central role in the region. China hopes to expand and deepen ties with ASEAN and implement effectively the ASEAN-China Action Plan in 2016-2020 and the existing cooperation mechanisms such as the Mekong-Lancang.

ASEAN countries re-affirmed the importance they attach to relations with China – which is considered one of the most important partners of ASEAN, and hope to work with China to address common matters such as terrorism, environment, and climate change.

They voiced support for China’s initiatives on “One Belt – One Road” and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Regarding the East Sea issue, ASEAN leaders reiterated the significance of maintaining peace, stability, security, and safety of navigation in the East Sea, which is crucial to peace and stability in the region and the world as well as the relations between ASEAN and China and other foreign partners.

They reiterated common principles such as exercising self-restraint, addressing peacefully disputes in line with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, and without using or threatening to use force.

The two sides agreed on the necessity of enhancing dialogues and cooperation to maintain peace and stability in the East Sea, implementing effectively the DOC and soon signing the COC for mutual benefits.

The summit ended with the adoption of a Joint Statement to commemorate the 25 th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations; a Joint Statement on the application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the East Sea; a document guiding hotline communications between senior officials of ASEAN and Chinese foreign ministries in responding to emergencies at sea; and a Joint Statement on Production Capacity Cooperation.

At the 19 th ASEAN-Japan Summit, leaders confirmed their determination to strengthen the bilateral strategic partnership to contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe affirmed the importance of ASEAN in his country’s external policies, while ASEAN countries hailed the cooperation and assistance of Japan in various fields as well as its crucial role in promoting regional peace and prosperity.

Japan is currently the second biggest trade partner and investor of ASEAN. Two-way trade hit 239.4 billion USD in 2015, and Japan injected 17.4 billion USD into ASEAN in the same year, making up 14.5 percent of the total investment flow into the bloc.

Both ASEAN and Japan pledged to cooperate in fighting terrorism, extreme violence, cross-border and cybercrime, and in strengthening marine security.

The two sides showed deep concerns over the escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula and actions violating relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

They stressed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and over-flight in the East Sea and of settling disputes via peaceful means in line with international law, including the 1992 UNCLOS.-VNA