NAYPYIDAW, May 10, /ITAR-TASS/. Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has issued a joint statement on the situation in the South China Sea, where Vietnam and China are in dispute over oil-rich territories, Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin told a news conference at the 24th ASEAN summit.
The ASEAN foreign ministers came to the conclusion that possible disputes should be settled in solely peaceful way, he said. The Association suggested the parties concerned adhered to the international law principles, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. All parties should be moderate and avoid actions that could shake peace and stability in the region, goes the joint statement.
In early May, China started oil exploration on the continental shelf near the Spratly archipelago and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea 120 nautical miles off Vietnam’s shore, another bidder for the disputed territories. According to Hanoi, the area is part of its exclusive economic zone. This week, the drilling zone was penetrated by several Vietnamese surveillance ships that tried to oust Chinese vessels, which resulted in clashes and use of water cannons.
The islands are also claimed by Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan as geological research has indicated the possibility of large oil reserves in the area. ASEAN and China have been negotiating a code of conduct in the sea for already ten years.
ASEAN assembles 10 major Southeast Asian states - Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore.