During an unofficial meeting between ASEAN Defense Ministers and their Japanese counterpart Taro Kano, the Japanese minister  expressed his  country’s support for the central role of ASEAN in regional cooperation mechanisms. The Japanese Defense Minister  hoped that Japan will take full advantage of cooperation opportunities  with the ASEAN community to obtain the best results. He added that Japan commits to helping ASEAN build its technology capacity  on the basis of the Vientiane Vision.

At the meeting between ASEAN Defense Ministers and Japanese Minister of Defense Taro Kano

Meanwhile, ASEAN Defense Ministers highlighted the fruitful cooperative relations between ASEAN and Japan in different fields over the past time and highly appreciated Japan’s assistance in maintaining ASEAN’s central role in the region. They hoped that Japan will make more contributions to strengthening peace, stability, and security in the region through cooperation. 

While meeting with defense ministers of ASEAN member nations, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe re-iterated China’s respect for cooperation with ASEAN and said that defense ties between ASEAN and China are getting stronger.

At the meeting between ASEAN Defense Ministers and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe

For their part, ASEAN defense ministers voiced their support to China’s proposals. They affirmed that remarkable cooperation activities between ASEAN and China over the past time, including the ASEAN-China Maritime Drill in 2018, the ASEAN-China Young Officers Exchange, and the ASEAN-China Military Scholar Exchange in October 2019, have practically contributed to building mutual trust between ASEAN and China. The ministers also appreciated the progress of the negotiation of Code of Conduct in the East Sea (South China Sea) (COC).

During the unofficial meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, the latter reaffirmed the country’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific on the basis of respecting countries’ sovereignty and international law.

Defense ministers of ASEAN countries welcomed the U.S.’s active participation in ASEAN-led cooperation mechanisms, including the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus. Also, they highly appreciated U.S.’s efforts in fostering cooperation with ASEAN over the past time, including the successful organization of the ASEAN-U.S. Maritime Exercise (AUMX).

On the same day, Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. The defense ministers affirmed that they will support Vietnam’s organization of military and defense activities when Vietnam takes the ASEAN Chair in 2020. 

Vietnamese Defense Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich (left) meets Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds.

Reported by Thu Trang (from Bangkok, Thailand)

Translated by Tran Hoai