HANOI, Oct 1, 2020, VNS. Việt Nam wants code of conduct (COC) negotiations for parties in the South China Sea (called East Sea by Việt Nam) between Southeast Asian nations and China to resume soon, after months of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson has said, Vietnam News reported.
Speaking at a press briefing in Hà Nội on Thursday, spokesperson for the foreign ministry Lê Thị Thu Hằng was responding to reports of Philippines’ foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stating that the country is “pushing as hard as it can” for the substantial progress on the second reading of the negotiating draft and getting started on the COC before the country hands over the ASEAN-China country co-ordinator role to Myanmar next year.
The resumption of talks is a priority for ASEAN countries and China and Việt Nam “share this priority”, Hằng said, adding that Việt Nam hopes that the member countries will arrive at a conclusion of an effective and comprehensive COC that is consistent with international law and especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
ASEAN countries and China finished their first reading of the draft code in the sea last year, while three readings are planned, with 2021 supposed to be the year when the code is fully fleshed out and hoped to resolve conflicts in the resource-rich waterway.
Also at the briefing, Hằng remarks that China’s reported live-fire drills in the South China Sea “jeopardise” peace and security in the region.
The spokesperson said China’s activities near the Hoàng Sa archipelago are contrary to the spirit of the existing Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), complicate the situation and are not conducive to COC talks.
“Việt Nam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the two island chains – Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa – which are in conformity with international law,” Hằng said.
Việt Nam claims Hoàng Sa as its own but the archipelago has been under Chinese control since its violent seizure in the early 70s.
Việt Nam demanded that China end its excursion, respect Việt Nam’s sovereignty over the two islands, and refrain from committing similar acts in the future, she said.
Also during the briefing, the Vietnamese spokesperson was asked on Việt Nam’s stance towards three note verbales addressed to the UN by the UK, France, and Germany refuting China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea on September 16.
The three European powers, all signatories to the UNCLOS 1982, denounced Beijing’s so-called “historic rights” over much of the waters as not in line with international law and especially the 1982 convention.
The notes also stressed the importance of “unhampered exercise of the freedom of the high seas, in particular the freedom of navigation and overflight, and of the right of innocent passage enshrined in UNCLOS, including in the South China Sea.”
“Việt Nam’s stance on the South China Sea has been consistently conveyed on many occasions,” Hằng said, adding that all countries sharing the common aspiration to promote peace, stability, co-operation and development in the sea should “respect the legal order at sea, and fully observe with good faith and sense of responsibility UNCLOS 1982.”
“Việt Nam welcomes countries’ stance on the South China Sea in line with international law, and shares the perspective that UNCLOS 1982 should be the framework to govern all matters at sea and ocean,” the spokesperson said.
“In this spirit, together with ASEAN countries, Việt Nam hopes that all countries, including ASEAN partners, would make meaningful contributions to the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the South China Sea and settle conflicts via dialogues and other peaceful measures in line with international law, to serve the mutual interests and aspirations of countries in the region and in the international community,” she noted.
“Việt Nam has always been a proactive and responsible contributor to this process,” Hằng said.
Also on Thursday, asked on the rising hostility in the Nagorno-Karabakh region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, foreign ministry spokesperson Hằng said Việt Nam is deeply concerned about the conflict.
“We welcome mediation efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group and call on all involved parties to refrain and put an end to escalation of conflicts, in the benefits of the two countries’ people, and to resolve conflicts via peaceful measures based on international law, contributing to the regional and global peace and stability,” Hằng said.