The 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-47) on August 10 issued a joint communiqué expressing the ministers’ deep concern over recent developments that have escalated tensions in the East Sea (also known as South China Sea ).
“We remained seriously concerned over recent developments which had increased tensions in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, maritime security as well as freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea ,” they said.
They also reaffirmed their commitments to the principles stipulated in the 2012 Statement of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers on ASEAN's Six Point Principles on the East Sea, the 2012 Joint Statement of the 15th ASEAN-China Summit on the 10th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, and the ASEAN Foreign Minister’s Statement on the Current Developments in the East Sea which was issued on May 10, 2014.
“We urged all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint and avoid actions which would complicate the situation and undermine peace, stability, and security in the South China Sea and to settle disputes through peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, including friendly dialogue, consultations and negotiations, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” according the communiqué.
The ministers further stressed the importance of the collective commitments of ASEAN Member States and China to peace, stability, maritime security and mutual trust in the region and the need to create conditions conducive for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
They agreed to intensify consultations with China on measures and mechanisms to ensure and further enhance the full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety, particularly Articles 4 and 5 as well as substantive negotiations for the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC). They said they tasked their Senior Officials to follow up on this matter.
The communiqué also took note of the Progress Report on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea to be submitted to the ASEAN-China Post-Ministerial Conference, and tasked officials to work with China to finalise the objective and structure and elaborate the substance of the COC, including concrete elements which would promote trust and confidence, prevent incidents, manage incidents should they occur.
The ministers underscored the importance of maintaining the momentum of consultations and expeditiously working towards the early conclusion of the COC following the constructive outcomes of the 7th ASEAN-China Senior Officials Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC (SOM on DOC) held on April 21, 2014 in Pattaya, Thailand and the 10th and 11th ASEAN-China Joint Working Groups on the Implementation of the DOC (JWG on DOC) held on March 18, 2014 in Singapore and June 25, 2014 in Bali, Indonesia, respectively.
“In this regard, we looked forward to more substantive discussions at the 8th SOM on DOC to be convened back-to-back with the 12th JWG on DOC in October 2014 in Bangkok , Thailand ,” they said.
They also noted the paper on the Triple Action Plan introduced by the Philippines and other proposals on Article 5 of the DOC raised by other ASEAN Foreign Ministers on the East Sea .
The joint communiqué also mentioned other issues discussed by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers during the AMM-47, including realising an ASEAN Community with three main pillars, ASEAN Community’s post-2015 vision, promoting ASEAN’s principles, norms and values and ASEAN’s centrality and its relations with partners, among others.