Vietnamese, Chinese defense ministers discuss East Sea dispute

By Vuong Duc Anh   March 27, 2016 | 10:39 pm PT
Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh met Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan in Hanoi with the dispute over territory in the East Sea in the agenda.

Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh (left) and his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan.

During a meeting on March 27, Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh and Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan agreed that both countries should abide by the principles set out in international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in order to reach a long-term and sustainable solution for the ongoing dispute over territory in the East Sea, Vietnam News Agency reported.

The ministers agreed that the two armies should "keep calm, restrain themselves, well control the situation, avoid conflicts and not threaten to use force in order to protect peace, stability, collaboration and the interests of the two countries, the region and the world as a whole".

Both ministers shared the view that Vietnam and China needed to adhere to guidelines laid out in the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC). This agreement, signed by ASEAN countries and China in 2002, is intended to be a platform to build trust and prevent maritime disputes from escalating.

The DOC is expected to provide the framework for the discussion and finalization of the formal and binding Code of Conduct (COC) - a set of principles for tension management between the claimant in the East Sea, which Thanh and Chang agreed Vietnam and China needed to aim toward.

By resolving the long-term conflict over the area, defense minister Thanh and his Chinese counterpart said they hoped to further develop bilateral relations between their two nations.

The two ministers also took part in the signing ceremony for the memorandum on UN peace-keeping cooperation between the Vietnamese and Chinese defense ministries. Minister Chang is scheduled to be in Vietnam from March 26 to 28.

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