The 19th ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) was held in China’s Chongqing city on June 7, in the framework of the special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
It was the first meeting of senior officials since the 18th SOM DOC in Vietnam’s Da Lat city in October 2019.
Addressing the meeting, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung said that although the maintenance of peace, stability and security in the East Sea is a shared interest of ASEAN and China, there are still unilateral actions taking place that violate the legitimate rights of coastal states, escalating tensions, eroding trust, and going against the joint efforts of both sides.
He called on all parties to seriously implement the DOC and reach agreements in a spirit of goodwill, abide by international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, and create a favourable environment for negotiations and the building of a substantial and effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) suitable with international law and UNCLOS that receives widespread support.
Participants agreed that despite the impact of COVID-19, ASEAN and China have worked hard to implement cooperation activities within the framework of DOC implementation, including those on protecting the maritime environment and ensuring the humanitarian and equal treatment of fishermen.
They expressed concern over complicated developments in the East Sea recently, including unilateral moves that go against international law, erode trust, escalate tensions, and harm the cooperation process in implementing DOC and negotiations for the COC.
The officials continued to affirm the significance of maintaining peace and stability as well as respecting aviation and maritime freedom, security, and safety, and settling disputes in the East Sea through peaceful measures in line with international law and UNCLOS.
ASEAN and China pledged to continue implementing the DOC in a serious, friendly, and full and effective manner.
The officials agreed to speed up negotiations over the COC and to direct the Joint Working Group to soon resume talks in suitable formats. They also reaffirmed their hope of reaching a legally-binding and effective COC that is in accordance with international law and the UNCLOS 1982./.