O’Brien, the ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, and leaders of 10 member countries expressed their concern over the potential risks undermining peace, security, and stability in the South China Sea, and actions countering international law that complicated the situation, caused instability and regional concern, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a press release.
Vietnam calls the South China Sea the East Sea.
The leaders underscored the significance of the rule of law, dialogue, trust-building, non-militarization, self-restraince, and peaceful solution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982) as a legal basis for all maritime actions.
They also reiterated that nations need to work together to maintain a peaceful and stable environment in the region and in the world. They highlighted that the Pacific Ocean is cohesive with the security space and development of ASEAN and the U.S.
“The U.S. reconfirmed the significance of international law adhering, unimpeded commerce. They support littoral countries to exercise sovereignty rights with maritime resources conforming to UNCLOS,” Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted.
O’Brien stated that a successful ASEAN community and the block’s centrality in the region are consistent with the U.S.’s interest.
The U.S. repeated its commitment to developing a strategic partnership with ASEAN for peace and prosperity in the region, on the basis of respecting independence, sovereignty and mutual interest raised in ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).
“O’Brien praised Vietnam’s active role as ASEAN Chair for 2020, especially in coordinating regional efforts with partners while facing different obstacles, including negative effects caused by Covid-19,” the ministry’s statement read.
ASEAN leaders said the block welcomes the U.S.’s contribution to maintaining peace, stability, security, safety, freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. They look forward to seeing the U.S. support efforts upholding international law, shared standards of conduct, implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety, and establishing the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (COC) in accordance with international laws, including the 1982 UNCLOS.
On economic cooperation, O’Brien said the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is carrying out various infrastructure projects in the region after investing over $1 billion in Southeast Asia. ASEAN is committed to facilitating the operation of 4,200 investors and businesses from the U.S, encouraging them to focus on areas of infrastructure, clean energy, high technology, and the digital economy.
The 8th ASEAN – U.S. Summit is among the series of the 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings, hosted online by Vietnam between November 12-15. They are the last and most important meetings under Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship this year.