15th East Asia Summit: Viet Nam highlights importance of maintaining environment of peace and stability
On the evening of 14 November 2020, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired the 15th East Asia Summit (EAS) via video conference. Leaders and representatives of ASEAN member states and dialogue partners in the EAS and the ASEAN Secretary-General attended the meeting. Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, and President of the World Bank, David Malpass, were invited to present global responses to COVID-19 and sustainable economic recovery.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc highly valued the role and prominence of the EAS. With ASEAN at the center and dialogue and cooperation as the guiding principles, after 15 years, the EAS has become the region’s leading strategical forum where the Leaders discuss important issues that affect regional peace, security, and prosperity. The Prime Minister highlighted that with a population of 4.6 billion and the GDP of 51.6 trillion USD, the EAS has established an appropriate platform for the countries to exchange common concerns and dialogue about cooperation in various areas. Furthermore, the EAS has also contributed to the development of common approaches to emerging issues, which are respect for the rules of law, sincere dialogue and substantive cooperation for lasting peace and security and sustainable prosperity in the region.
All countries expressed their appreciation to Viet Nam, as the Chair of ASEAN 2020 and the 15th EAS, for its success in coordinating joint efforts, both to enhance cooperation for peace and security and to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Leaders also valued highly ASEAN's initiatives to strengthen cooperation in COVID-19 responses, especially the COVID-19 Response Fund and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies. Some partners mentioned their specific support for ASEAN in pandemic control and comprehensive recovery.
Participating countries agreed to improve the capacity of the public health system in order to prepare to respond to future health challenges, and develop an early warning system. At the same time, it is also necessary to cooperate in the research and production of safe, effective, and affordable vaccines and treatment for COVID-19. The countries attached great importance to sharing and applying new technologies for a successful fight against and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.
Building on the achievements in 15 years, the Leaders of EAS agreed to cooperate to course the direction for EAS to develop further, contribute to dialogue and cooperation for peace, security and prosperity, and to respond effectively to emerging challenges in the region.
The leaders spent much time to discuss regional and international developments. The countries emphasized the need to ensure a favorable environment for pandemic control. In this regard, the countries stressed the sense of responsibility while calling for exercise of restraint, avoiding actions that complicate the situation, non-militarization, and peaceful settlement of disputes and differences under international law, United Nation 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), and regulatory frameworks for all activities at sea. The countries recognized the efforts made by ASEAN and China in the full and effective implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea and the development of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) consistent with international law, including the UNCLOS 1982.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc shared the assessment of other Leaders on the importance of building a culture of dialogue and cooperation for peace, security, and development in the region. The Prime Minister emphasized that in a rapidly changing and complex world, the EAS should enhance its role as a leading forum in promoting dialogue and cooperation and building strategic trust among nations, turning challenges into opportunities, resolving difficulties, turning confrontations into cooperation, thereby contributing to shaping an effective international multilateral structure that is capable of effectively responding to regional and global challenges.
Highlighting the strategic significance of the sea and oceans to national development, the Prime Minister proposed to further promote maritime cooperation, a priority area of the EAS, through sustainable use and conservation of marine resources, prevention of marine pollution and marine debris, disaster preparedness and response, as well as marine connectivity.
On regional and international issues, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc reaffirmed ASEAN's principled position on the South China Sea as mentioned in the statements of the 36th ASEAN Summit (June 2020) and the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (September 2020). The Prime Minister emphasized that all actions at sea should be consistent with international law and UNCLOS 1982, which is the framework for defining legitimate maritime rights and interests of the parties.
At the end of the Summit, the Leaders adopted the Ha Noi Declaration on the 15th Anniversary of the East Asia Summit, the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on Maritime Sustainability, the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on Cooperation to Promote Steady Growth of Regional Economy, the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening Collective Capacity in Epidemics Prevention and Response, and the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on Women, Peace and Security./.