ASEAN Supports Philippines Claim Over Panatag Shoal

Viet Nam and other ASEAN countries have regularly held consultations on the issues in the East Sea, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi told journalists at the ministry’s regular press conference in Ha Noi yesterday.

Nghi was responding to questions from reporters about the issue, and he confirmed that after the conclusion of the 21st ASEAN summit, all of the member countries claiming sovereignty in the East Sea will meet to discuss the issue in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, on December 12.

Nghi said that the Philippines informed Viet Nam about the meeting, and the ministry was awaiting an official invitation which would state the manner and time of the event, and its agenda in more detail.

He stressed that despite this additional round of discussions, consultation between ASEAN countries on this issue was a normal and regular occurrence as the bloc aimed to promote and maintain peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea.

The aim was to push for a peaceful settlement to the disputes on the basis of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982) and existing agreements and commitments such as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties on the East Sea (DOC), the ASEAN Declaration on Six-Point Principles and the latest Joint Statement of the 15th ASEAN-China Summit on the 10th anniversary of DOC.

The spokesman also made clear Viet Nam’s extreme concern over China’s issuance of e-passports to its citizens with a map of China including the disputed Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos. He said that this act clearly violated Viet Nam’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over these waters in the East Sea.

Representatives from the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry met with Chinese Embassy staff in Ha Noi to hand over a diplomatic note protesting the action and requesting China to annul the contents printed in the e-passport, he added.

No news limit

Nghi also responded to allegations from reporters that Government Decision No. 20, regarding television licensing, was adopted to limit foreign TV program-mes, especially news.

He said the editing and translation of foreign TV programmes on pay TV channels had been stipulated in previously issued legal documents, including Decision No. 79 issued by the Prime Minister in 2002.

He added that regulations on managing pay TV activities, attached to the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 20, was to detail editing and translation requirements for existing foreign programmes. This was to provide Vietnamese residents better access to foreign-language programmes.

Nghi said Viet Nam’s policy was to facilitate foreign business operations in different fields, including television. There are more than 70 foreign TV programmes registered for pay TV services, he said, adding that the operations of foreign pay TV channels would encourage the development of the pay TV industry in Viet Nam as well as help local people gain better access to overseas information.

In the process of implementing the regulation, agencies would continue to acquire and consider opinions contributed by concerned parties, he assured.

Finally, reporters questioned Nghi on Viet Nam’s stance on the recent Israel-Palestine ceasefire agreement.

He replied that the country was deeply concerned with the serious violence between Israel and Palestine, and the killing of hundreds of civilians.

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