Speaking at the East Asia Summit (EAS) on the evening of October 27, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh mentioned the security issue of the South China Sea (Vietnam calls it the East Sea), saying that maintaining peace and stability in the region, ensuring security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea is in the common interest and calls on countries to exercise restraint, although he did not mention China.
Speaking online to the leaders of ASEAN countries, and leaders of their partners, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and US President Joe Biden, Mr. Chinh said:
“Maintaining peace and stability in the region, ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea are common interests and require the joint contribution of all countries,” according to Vietnam’s Government Portal.
“States should exercise self-restraint, avoid unilateral actions that may complicate the situation, and resolve disputes by peaceful means through dialogue, in accordance with international law, based on the 1982 UNCLOS,” emphasized the Vietnamese government leader.
China claims most of the South China Sea, where Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam, also claim territorial waters. The region has become one of the “hot spots” challenging tough US-China relations. Washington denies Beijing’s illegal territorial claims in the natural resource-rich sea.
From Washington, US President Joe Biden said that the US will stand with countries in the region in defending the freedom of the seas.
“President Biden reaffirmed the United States enduring commitment to the Indo-Pacific and he outlined his vision for the region, which seeks an open, connected, prosperous region, resilient and secure,” according to a White House statement.
Mr. Biden also reiterated the United States’ commitment to the international rules-based order and expressed concern about threats to that order.
Reuters news agency quoted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as saying that maintaining peace, stability, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea is in the interest of all countries. “The South China Sea is our common home,” he said.