VGP – The 54th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and related meetings take place from 2-7 August 2021 via videoconference discussed ways to prepare for future challenges and opportunities as well as important regional and international issues of common concern.
Twenty-seven Foreign Ministers from ASEAN Member States and external partners participated the week-long events. ASEAN Foreign Ministers reiterated in their Joint Communique the importance of ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture amidst the uncertainties of regional security dynamics and other emerging challenges, especially those arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At separated videoconferences with external partners, they discussed and exchange views important regional and international issues of common concern.
Chinese FM Wang Yi said that China always views ASEAN as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, firmly supports ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation and ASEAN’s greater role in international and regional issues.
Wang suggested that both sides should implement the upgraded Protocol of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and work for the early entry into force and implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Meanwhile, the United States is revitalizing its multilateral partnerships to advance shared prosperity, security, and values in the Indo-Pacific.
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken announced new initiatives to strengthen the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.
The U.S. also confirmed that enhancing U.S. ties with Mekong sub-region is a priority of Biden Administration.
Bliken said the U.S. encourages ASEAN to take a greater leadership role in addressing Mekong sub-regional challenges such as food security, environmental degradation, and transnational crime.
As ASEAN and the ASEAN-led architecture are central to Australia’s positive vision for an inclusive, resilient and open Indo-Pacific, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne revealed that Australia will enhance its cooperation with the ASEAN to strengthen ASEAN – Australia partnership to address the current and future challenges in the Indo-Pacific.
She said Australia remains committed to supporting ASEAN’s role on Myanmar and continue to urge the full and timely implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus, including the immediate appointment of a Special Envoy on Myanmar.
Participating at the events, Japanese FM Motegi, with regard to the Myanmar issue, expressed his great appreciation for the efforts of ASEAN to turn around the situation and stated the importance of swiftly implementing the Five-Point Consensus.
Motegi also stated the need for visible outcomes, such as the dispatch of a special envoy and the start of dialogue among all stakeholders, and called for a constructive response from the Myanmar side. In addition, Minister Motegi expressed Japan’s intention to strongly support initiatives by ASEAN.
On the Indo – Pacific region, Motegi stated that it is important to maintain and strengthen the principles of the rule of law, openness, transparency and inclusivity in the Indo-Pacific region because of the difficult situation of COVID-19.
He also stated that Japan will proceed with projects that take shape the principles of the ASEAN outlook on the Indo Pacific (AOIP) in line with “the Joint Statement on Cooperation on AOIP” issued at Japan-ASEAN summit meeting last year.
Another country in East Asia, the Republic of Korea noted that the New Southern Policy (NSP) has become a strong foundation of ROK-ASEAN cooperation.
On Myanmar, FM Chung stressed that the five-point consensus agreed upon at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting held in April should be implemented without delay and mentioned that the ROK government will also continue to seek ways for contribution, including providing humanitarian assistance to people of Myanmar.
With regard to the East Sea issue, FM Chung emphasized that maintaining peace and stability is a matter of great importance for all of the countries, and stressed that international law, including UNCLOS, should be respected and that freedom of navigation in and overflight above the East Sea must be guaranteed.
Chung expressed the ROK government’s will to contribute to regional peace and prosperity by exploring coordinated cooperation between the New Southern Policy and various regional initiatives, amid the expanding interest in and engagement with the Indo-Pacific region which includes ASEAN, due to the growing geopolitical, economic and strategic importance of the region.
For his part, the EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, expressed his belief that ASEAN should be the central focus of European Union cooperation in the region.
Meanwhile, the Indian Foreign Minister expressed support for the ASEAN five-point consensus on Myanmar and welcomed the appointment of Special Envoy.
On the East Sea issue, he stressed that Code of Conduct in the East Sea should be fully consistent with UNCLOS 1982, which sets out accepted legal framework for all maritime activities.