Major speakers from Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and the US, and experts hailed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s role in managing disputes and stepping up regional cooperation.
They touched upon maritime cooperation within the framework of ASEAN-led mechanisms over the past time and worked on proposals to improve the efficiency of the grouping’s engagement in the East Sea in the future.
In his opening remarks, Peter Girke, Head of KAS Office in Vietnam, pointed out countries’ different approaches to disputes in the East Sea and ASEAN’s limited role in incidents in the sea, which is geographically situated in the centre of the region.
The Ocean Dialogues aim to discuss a strategy of making small steps in regional cooperation, with priority given to seeking common points and building trust through the settlement of less sensitive issues such as environmental pollution and fish resources reduction, he said.
If such approach produces progress, regional countries would find it easier to deal with long-term challenges and conflicts, he added.
Australian Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam Rebecca Bryant affirmed Australia’s commitment to backing ASEAN’s central role in Indo-Pacific, and applauded its significant contributions to maintaining security and stability over the past 50 years.
Prior to the dialogue, Dr. Le Hai Binh, DAV Deputy Director, said the event is designed to seek new ideas on the ASEAN cooperation in the East Sea to propose to policy-making agencies, while raising public awareness of external affairs in the time ahead, in the context that Vietnam has been elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2020-2021 and will take over the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020.
The event was jointly held by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), German foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), the Australian Embassy in Vietnam and the Foundation for East Sea Studies.
The four previous Ocean Dialogues discussed issues regarding maritime administration, fishery cooperation, international maritime law and plastic waste at sea.