Vietnam's top diplomat discusses South China Sea issues in Manila
Updated at Thursday, 07 Mar 2019, 11:39
The Hanoitimes - The discussion took place in the context that the Philippines is the Coordinator of the ASEAN-China relations until 2021.
Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh discussed maritime issues with Filipino counterpart Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. in Manila on March 6 as the two countries are claimants of sovereignty in the South China Sea, to which Vietnam refers as the East Sea.
The top diplomats talked on the issues at the ninth meeting of the Philippines-Vietnam Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Filipino counterpart Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. in Malina. Photo: VNS
“We both underlined the importance of maintaining peace, stability, safety and security of navigation in the South China Sea, peaceful resolution of (the) dispute, and respecting the diplomatic and legal processes, respecting international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) 1982, full observation of DOC (Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) towards early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC (Code of Conduct in the South China Sea),” Minh said in a press statement.
The discussion took place in the context that the Philippines is the Coordinator of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-China relations until 2021.
Vietnam is among the countries with competing territorial claims in the South China Sea, aside from the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, and China. Hanoi protested last November China’s construction activities in Vietnam’s islands.
Minh also noted the enhanced cooperation between the Philippines and Vietnam in defense and security “with the regular and effective implementation of important mechanisms such as defense policy dialogue and the navy consultation.”
At the meeting, the two sides inked the Philippines-Vietnam Five-Year Plan of Action 2019-2024. “It comprehensively maps out specific commitments we will undertake jointly in the political, security, economic, and cultural spheres, as well as in other various areas,” Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a press briefing after the JCBC.
Vietnamese FM Pham Binh Minh meets with the Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: VNS
According to the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affair, he called the plan of action is “another milestone” in the Philippines-Vietnam strategic partnership, shows the “resolve to drive relations forward and onward” and noted that their relationship with Vietnam “entering a new important chapter”.
Meanwhile, Minh said “We appreciate the good progress in maritime and oceanic affairs cooperation, and also in agriculture, ICT (information and communications technology), environment, education, training, culture, sports, tourism, and people-to-people exchange.”
The Vietnamese top diplomat added: “Both our countries are among the fastest growing economies in Asia, and that is conducive to further promoting our trade and investment relations in the years ahead.”
Echoing Minh, Locsin said “As two of ASEAN’s most dynamic economies, and as two countries faced with similar challenges, we draw lessons not only from our gains and accomplishments but also from…areas where we might have fallen short.”
Vietnam and the Philippines have agreed to target an annual growth rate of 20% in bilateral trade turnover in the next few years. The two-way trade reached $4.72 billion in 2018, up 18% on year.
The JCBC is a regular consultative mechanism between the two countries to discuss bilateral and regional issues of mutual concern. The last JCBC was held in Hanoi in October 2015.
The Philippines looks forward to Vietnam’s hosting of the 10th meeting of the JCBC in 2021.