A Vietnamese delegation participated in the Senior Officials Meetings (SOM) of ASEAN, ASEAN+3, East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), in Surabaya , Indonesia from June 7-10.

Speaking at the meetings, the head of the Vietnamese delegation, Pham Quang Vinh, Assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of SOM ASEAN Vietnam, highly valued ASEAN efforts in building the Community and expanding cooperation with partners, as well as promoting its central role in boosting cooperation for peace, stability, development and effective response to challenges posed to the region.

Regarding the East Sea issue, Vinh stressed that peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea are a common concern and interest of all countries and the whole region and all nations should continue joining hands for these objectives.

He said that Vietnam supports efforts to strengthen confidence building and cooperation for peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea, to further promote existing regional tools and mechanisms such as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and the ARF, to realise commitments in the ASEAN-China Action Plan for the 2011-2015 period approved at the ASEAN-China Summit in October, 2010 on the respect for and full and effective implementation of the DOC, and the early organisation of the ASEAN-China senior officials meeting on the DOC implementation.

However, the region continued to witness complex developments and cases, causing instability in the East Sea . The most worrying and serious was a series of cases recently. On May 26, Vietnamese ship Binh Minh 02’s survey cables were cut by Chinese marine surveillance vessels when it was operating totally within the 200-nautical mile continental shelf and exclusive economic zone of Vietnam.

A similar case happened on June 9 when a Chinese fishing boat, supported by two Chinese fishery administration vessels, deliberately hit the survey cables of Viking II, a ship hired by the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, when it was conducting seismic surveys in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

“ Vietnam strongly opposes these acts, which make the East Sea situation more unstable and seek to turn a undisputed area into ‘a disputed area’, raising worries for not only concerned parties but also all countries as well as for peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the region in general,” he said.

Vietnam also strongly affirms the principle of respecting international laws and national sovereignty, resolutely demanding prevention of recurrence of such cases and at the same time keeps the policy to continue dialogue and solve disputes through peaceful measures, he said.

The Vietnamese diplomat emphasised the need to further strengthen regional legal institutions, adding that all parties should strictly abide by basic principles of international law, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982) and the DOC, address disputes through peaceful solutions, restrain themselves and refrain from action that complicates the situation.

“This is a matter of decisive significance for peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea ,” he said.

According to Vinh, the 18 th ASEAN Summit affirmed the importance of the DOC for peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea and came to a decision that ASEAN would strive to promptly complete rules guiding the implementation of the DOC and speed up consultation on the building of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea .

ASEAN suggested China work together with ASEAN, in the spirit of constructiveness, openness and sincerity, to address existing problems in order to promptly complete rules guiding the implementation of the DOC, he said.

ASEAN Senior Officials Meetings further emphasised efforts to build an ASEAN Community by 2015, promote regional connectivity and strengthen relations with partner countries. Participants called on ASEAN to play a stronger central role in determining regional structure and orientation and promote cooperation for peace, stability and development in the region. They called for effective solutions to emerging challenges in both traditional and non-traditional security problems, ranging from natural disasters to climate change, epidemics, food and energy security, marine security and safety and transnational crime.

Partner countries retained their support for ASEAN in building an ASEAN Community and highlighted the grouping’s central role in the region.

At the SOM meetings of ASEAN+3 and EAS, participants hailed the recent progress made in implementing the programmes of action set by ASEAN+3 and EAS for the 2003-12 period. They also expressed satisfaction at the implementation of five areas prioritised by EAS, namely finance, energy, education, natural disaster control and epidemic control. They also welcomed Russian and US leaders’ attendance in the EAS in November.

At the ARF SOM, delegates came out with the approval on a number of practical measures to deploy the Hanoi Plan of Action aimed at implementing the ARF Vision for 2020.

In these meetings, especially at the ARF, many countries expressed concerns about the recent complicated developments in the East Sea . They attached importance to ensuring peace, stability and marine security and safety and called for peaceful solutions to disputes based on international law, the UNCLOS 1982 and the DOC.

All these meetings are preparatory steps for the 44 th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM-44), the 18 th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting with Partner Member Countries (PMC) and the 18 th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF-18) scheduled for the third week of July./.