Australia, Vietnam express concern on ‘disruptive activities’ in South China Sea

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison conducted a bilateral meeting in Vietnam during Morrison’s first official visit from August 22 to 24.

According to a joint statement released, the Prime Ministers expressed serious concerns about developments in the South China Sea, including land reclamation and militarisation of disputed features.

“They also expressed concern about disruptive activities in relation to long-standing oil and gas projects in the South China Sea. They emphasized the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, compliance with international law and maintaining a rules-based order,” the joint statement added.

The two leaders also called on all parties to exercise self-restraint and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation.

“They also reaffirmed the need for states to resolve disputes peacefully, without the threat or use of force in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” it added.

They underscored the importance of UNCLOS dispute settlement mechanisms and called upon the parties to respect and implement the decisions rendered by these mechanisms.

“They reiterated the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC),” according to the joint statement.

“They called for any Code of Conduct between ASEAN and China to be fully consistent with international law, in particular UNCLOS, without prejudice to the interests of third parties or the rights of states under international law, and support existing inclusive regional architecture,” it added.