Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) chiefs of defense forces which include Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam have reaffirmed the importance of peace in South China Sea.
The defense forces chiefs made the statement on March 8 at the 15th ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM) held in Singapore. The Philippines was represented by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
They reaffirmed “the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea as well as the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
The also declared to “continue to strengthen defence cooperation amongst the ASEAN Member States, based on the principles of the ASEAN Charter, voluntary and nonbinding contributions with assets remaining under national command and control and at a pace comfortable to all, in order to build trust, confidence and capacity in addressing regional security challenges in an effective and timely manner.”
The ASEAN defense forces chiefs also reiterated the importance of the practice and observation of existing international protocols including the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), in order to enhance operational safety, and avoid undesirable incidents at sea.