The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China expect to soon resume the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) negotiations that have been stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a senior Vietnamese diplomat has said.
|ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, January 17, 2020. Photo: VOV
The COC continues to be a priority for both ASEAN and China and the issue would be discussed at the upcoming 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM 53) and related meetings, said Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung at a press conference on Monday.
He pointed out that both ASEAN and China are worried about the standstill of the COC talks, but the parties cannot do it online given the complex nature of such a document.
The Vietnamese official tipped that both sides have held a few online meetings at working level to discuss ways to resume negotiations and next goals. “We have so far agreed on a number of points on the format and expect that COC negotiations will be resumed soon.”
ASEAN and China have negotiated on such a COC since 2002 with a view to reaching law-abiding rules on the South China Sea, to which Vietnam refers as the East Sea. The latest meeting for COC talks took place in Vietnam’s Dalat last October when the parties agreed to prepare for the second reading of the COC draft.
Also at the press meeting on September 7, when asked about the possible establishment of new partnerships between ASEAN and partners at the AMM 53 meetings, Mr. Dung said ASEAN, whose role has been lifted in the international arena, has received proposals from countries at three levels.
ASEAN has three partnership levels which are full dialogue partnership, sector dialogue partnership, and development partnership.
According to the official, the UK has submitted a proposal to become a full dialogue partner of the 10-nation bloc while Italy wants to become a development partner. In addition, Morocco and the UAE want to form sector dialogue partnership while Cuba and Colombia have proposed joining the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC).
These proposals would be reviewed by the ASEAN Secretariat and pondered by ASEAN foreign ministers at AMM-53 and then submitted to the ASEAN Summit later this year, Mr. Dung informed.
All the issues will be on the table at AMM 53, including the South China Sea topic, the official said in response to a question of Hanoitimes.