Defense Minister General Phan Van Giang, leading the Vietnamese delegation, attended and spoke at the opening ceremony. Deputy Defense Minister Senior Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Chien attended the event in Hanoi.

The event taking place virtually under the chair of Brunei’s Second Minister of Defense Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Brunei’s Second Minister of Defense emphasized that 2021 is a challenging year for ASEAN member countries in the context that they are exerting efforts to build a resilient ASEAN. He was pleased that despite impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brunei has received active support from member states to fulfill its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2021.

In his speech, Major General Pehin Datu Lailaraja Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Md Yussof also expressed delight that in the context, ASEAN member states have still maintained good momentum of defense cooperation in 2021. This was demonstrated through the adoption of various important conceptual documents guiding the relationship between ADMM and external partners within the framework of the ADMM+ and the Bandar Seri Begawan Declarations at the 15th ADMM and the 8th ADMM+.

He expected that delegates will discuss and put forward measures to further promote ADMM’s role in moving the ASEAN Community forward in the spirit of the ASEAN 2021 theme, “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper.”

Vietnamese Defense Minister speaking at the event

Speaking at the ADMM Retreat, the Vietnamese defense minister affirmed response capability of ADMM member states to the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the role played by ADMM over the last 15 years in strengthening trust and building common awareness of regional security issues, including the East Sea (South China Sea) issue. In particular, since the ADMM held in Indonesia in 2011, the East Sea issue has been considered a common regional issue, and has been regularly discussed and included in joint statements by the ADMM.

Regarding challenges to ASEAN's central role in cooperation with its partners, the Vietnamese defense minister affirmed that in the context that big countries have formed more multilateral mechanisms and new strategies, ADMM has and will have to make more efforts to demonstrate its role and position, thus ensuring a balance of interests inside and outside the association. In addition, member states have to exert more effort to ensure that countries outside ASEAN have responsibility for common issues of the region.

The head of the Vietnamese delegation also stressed the need to maintain security, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight for benefits of all countries in the world. He stressed that ASEAN  needs to stick to its principled stance on the East Sea, emphasize the settlement of disputes by peaceful means on the basis of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982). The organization should also strongly promote the commitment of countries to abide by international law,  to act responsibly, exercise self-restraint and refrain from actions that cause tension or complicate the situation, fully and effectively implement the the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), accelerate the completion of an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international law and UNCLOS 1982.

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, General Giang highlighted ADMM’s capability of responding to the new situation, including the organization of both online and in-person activities in line with the ASEAN senior leaders’ viewpoints that countries both have to try to respond to the pandemic and adapt to new normal state and prepare for socio-economic recovery.

At the opening ceremony, participating delegates were also updated on cooperation since the 15th ADMM and the 8th ADMM+ in June this year. The ministers also exchanged views on the strategic direction of ADMM on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the foundation day of ADMM.

At the event

On the occasion, informal meetings of ASEAN and RoK and ASEAN-Australia defense ministers will take place.

The participation of the Vietnamese delegation in the ADMM Retreat and other informal meetings contributes to affirming the role of Vietnam as an active, pro-active and responsible member of ASEAN. It also demonstrates the country’s support to Brunei as well as ASEAN partners, including the RoK and Australia.

Translated by Tran Hoai