Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh has reiterated Vietnam’s policy of protecting national sovereignty by peaceful measures with respect to international law, in order to maintain peace, stability, security and safety of navigation in the East Sea.

Minister Thanh briefed participants at the eight ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-8) in Myanmar on May 20 amidst their concerns over China’s illegal placement of a drilling rig in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam. The act threatens peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea.

Vietnam is determined to keep political stability in the country and maintain the friendship and comprehensive cooperation with China, he affirmed.

Vietnam has requested dialogue with the Chinese side at different levels, including through people-to-people diplomatic channels, with the desire of both sides to exercise restraint to avoid military conflicts at sea, he added.

He stated that the country does not use aircraft, missile-mounted ships or frogmen to attack and destroy the Chinese rig, adding that Vietnamese law enforcement ships, including coast guard and fisheries surveillance ones, and fishing boats do not ram or fire water cannons on Chinese vessels to force them to withdraw.

Informing about some protests taking place in Vietnam in response to China ’s violation of the country’s sovereignty, General Thanh said that some extremists made use of the events to commit crimes such as destroying the property of foreign invested firms, which went beyond the wishes of both Vietnam and China , as well as other countries.

He underscored that Vietnam will strictly punish the violators in accordance with the country’s law, not allowing the incident to affect its investment environment as well as the friendship between the people of Vietnam and China.

“The Vietnamese Government is taking measures to ensure security and absolute safety for foreign citizens and enterprises in the country,” he stated, adding that the affected firms have resumed their normal operations.

“We hope that foreign friends will share the difficulties with Vietnam and encourage their businesses to have peace of mind while working and investing in Vietnam,” he said.

Regarding the tension in the East Sea, participants at the event agreed to raise the issue at the informal meeting between ASEAN Defence Ministers and the Chinese Defence Minister on the sidelines of the ADMM-8.

Concluding the event, the defence leaders passed a joint statement on the cooperation for community and prosperity.

They voiced support to the outcomes of the 24 th ASEAN Summit and the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration, which call on cooperation in ensuring the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

They also called on parties to practice self-restraint without using force or conducting activities that may intensify tensions, while highlighting the need to form a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) at an early date.

The ministers reiterated the group’s commitment to reinforcing defence cooperation towards the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015.

They suggested measures to build trust, including forming more hotlines and collecting commitments not to using forces among ASEAN countries.

Participants were briefed of the group’s all-round development by General Secretary Le Luong Minh.

According to Minh, the seventh ASEAN-China senior officials’ meeting on the implementation of the DOC in Pattaya , Thailand , in April this year stressed the need to fully implement the DOC.

Both sides affirmed the need of early finalising the COC.

At the 24th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar, ASEAN leaders once again stated the importance of maintaining peace and stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea .

They expressed deep concerns over incidents escalating tensions in the East Sea while emphasing the need the form the COC soon.

On the sidelines of the event, the Vietnamese Minister had bilateral meetings with the Defence Ministers of China, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Minister of Energy of Brunei.-VNA