ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Vietnam and China talks won’t solve this sea disputeBy David Swartzemtruber
In what is described as a “dialogue” Vietnam and China meeting in Beijing on Tuesday agreed to promote “bilateral defense cooperation.”
The last issue discussed was the thorniest- the issue of territorial rights in the South China Sea, which the Vietnamese refer to as the East Sea.
Vietnam and the Philippines are the two Asean countries that have been making waves over the sea dispute as in August both countries acquired a warship to strengthen their maritime defenses.
The Vietnamese acquired a Russian ship and the Philippines a decommissioned US Coast guard cutter.
Going back further, Vietnam appealed to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to make a statement about the sea dispute at the final Asean Summit in 2010 in Hanoi, when Vietnam served as chair of the Asean community and she did.
The news report from the dialogue was couched in the usual generalized diplomatic language but Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister, Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh said, "Issues relating to the East Sea should be settled in accordance to international laws, particularly the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and pending the demarcation, the two sides must absolutely not use force or even consider using force.”
The latter is encouraging but there are there three other Asean countries involved (Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines) plus non-Asean member, Taiwan, and how the whole situation is resolved will involve patience, cooperation and good will rather than more battleships.
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