Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called upon the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China to come up with a code of conduct in the East Sea (COC) at an early time.

This could break the “vicious circle” and not let disputes sour the broader relationship, PM Lee said in his speech at the opening ceremony of the 14th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on May 29.

He stressed adhering to international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the best way for all parties involved.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, widely recognised as Asia-Pacific’s foremost defence and security summit, drew senior defence officers from 26 regional countries to discuss security challenges in the region and around the world; security cooperation methods in Asia; measures against conflicts; and China’s role in maintaining security and stability in Asia-Pacific.

Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, head of the Vietnamese delegation to the event, is expected to deliver a speech on preventing conflict escalation.

On May 30, US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter and Japanese Minister of Defence Gen Makatani warned that China’s island-building in the East Sea is undermining security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cater asked China to halt immediately the island-building activities in the East Sea, saying the US is deeply concerned about the scale of China’s land reclamation and opposes any further militarization in the East Sea.
Meanwhile, Japanese Minister Gen Makatani said he hopes China and all other involved will behave in a responsible manner, recommending a COC should be developed as soon as possible.

Held annually by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Shangri-la Dialogue is significant to security in the Asian-Pacific region, offering a good chance for regional countries to hold dialogues towards ensuring security and stability in the region.-VNA