Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on May 20, 2021, called for promoting trade, maintaining peace in the East Sea (South China Sea), and especially soon signing a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC). In addition, he also encouraged countries to “put aside disagreements” to fight the Covid pandemic.
According to Nikkei, during the 26th International Conference for the Future of Asia which was held online, Pham Minh Chinh, who took office as Vietnam’s prime minister in April, stressed the importance of stability in the South China Sea, where Vietnam and China remain tense over sovereignty issues.
Mr. Pham Minh Chinh stated that “it is necessary to resolve differences by peaceful solutions,” in compliance with the United Nations Charter and the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Referring to multilateral cooperation mechanisms, he suggested: “close coordination to soon sign a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).” The Vietnamese Prime Minister also affirmed the need to protect “freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea.”
Japan’s Nikkei newspaper emphasized that “negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea have been deadlocked for many years,” while China continues its expansionist actions and militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea, conducting many exercises, threatens neighbors in this strategic sea.
At the same time, Mr. Pham Minh Chinh also said that Asia’s recovery after the Covid pandemic depends largely on the ability to maintain commercial investment in and out of the region. According to him, international trade agreements such as CPATPP, RCEP will help accelerate the economic recovery and development process of the region.
Vietnam has effectively coped with the pandemic, helping to keep growth at 2.9% in 2020, but the authorities are concerned about the increasing number of new mutated infections. The top priority right now is to secure a vaccine supply.
The International Conference for the Future of Asia is an annual policy forum organized by Japan. This year’s conference was attended by leaders of Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia.