Vietnam defense minister calls for cooperation to solve South China Sea disputes

By Phuong Vu   June 2, 2019 | 02:42 am PT
Vietnam defense minister calls for cooperation to solve South China Sea disputes
Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2, 2019. Photo by AFP/Roslan Rahman.
Minister of National Defense Ngo Xuan Lich urged countries to maintain cooperation and peace in dealing with territorial conflicts on Sunday.

Lich addressed the Asian premier defense dialogue Shangri-La by pointing to high risks of conflicts in the South China Sea, which he calls an area that hosts all kinds of competition from economy to military and diplomacy.

He called for countries to follow international laws, take responsibility and maintain goodwill to make the waters "a peaceful sea of development and cooperation."

He said he and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe had agreed a few days ago in Hanoi that Vietnam and China had differences on the issue of the waterway, but maintaining peace and cooperation is in the common interests of both countries and the region.  

"I believe that China is always aware of their great role in the region, Lich said, adding that China is initiating the "Community of common destiny" concept to cooperate with Vietnam and other countries in the region to solve disputes and prevent conflicts.

"By doing so, China and Vietnam can contribute a good model to solving conflicts."

Vietnam and other countries are involved in sovereignty disputes in certain areas of the South China Sea, which it calls the East Sea. Vietnam has consistently asserted that it has solid legal basis and historical evidence in accordance with international law to prove its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. 

The three-day Shangri-La Dialogue wrapped up in Singapore on Sunday after six plenary sessions to discuss the U.S.’s vision for Indo-Pacific security, Korean security, Asia’s evolving security order and its challenges, China and international security cooperation, preventing conflict in contested domains, and ensuring a resilient and stable region.

China and the U.S. clashed over the summit as each accused the other of destabilizing the region and potentially the world.

China's Wei spoke on Sunday as he warned the U.S. not to meddle in security disputes over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

That came after acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the meeting on Saturday that the U.S. would no longer "tiptoe" around Chinese behavior in Asia.

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