Leaders of the 10 ASEAN member countries and China have found common ground on the South China Sea issue, recognising the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight in the sea area.
Heads of state and government of the ASEAN member states and China issued a joint statement following the ASEAN-China Summit held in Vientiane on Wednesday.
In the statement, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the Joint Statement of the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN Member States and China on the Full and Effective Implementation of the DOC.
This includes the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight, as provided for by universally recognised principles of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The leaders recognised that maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea region serves the fundamental interests of ASEAN Member States and China (the Parties) as well as the international community.
The leaders also recognised that Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and China are parties to the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972.
They recognised that Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and China are members of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) and have adopted the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
The leaders recognised that Laos and Myanmar, though not members of the WPNS, affirm the significance of CUES in ensuring maritime safety.
The leaders recognised that CUES, as a coordinated means of communication to maximise safety at sea, offers a means by which navies may develop mutually rewarding international cooperation and transparency.
They recalled that WPNS navies that choose to adopt CUES for naval cooperation do so on a voluntary and non-binding basis, and that CUES is also available for implementation by other navies on the same basis.
The leaders expressed hope to further deepen mutual trust and cooperation among their navies through the implementation of CUES.
We reaffirm our commitment to CUES in order to improve operational safety of naval ships and naval aircraft in the air and at sea, and ensure mutual trust among all Parties, the leaders said in the joint statement.
They agreed to use the safety and communication procedures for the safety of all their naval ships and naval aircraft, as set out in CUES, when they encounter each other in the South China Sea. We affirm that this effort contributes to our commitment to maintaining regional peace and stability, maximum safety at sea, promoting good neighbourliness and reducing risks during mutual unplanned encounters in air and at sea, and strengthening cooperation among navies, they said.
Source: Vientiane Times