The just concluded 4
ADMM approved two documents, ADMM‐Plus: Configurationand Composition [also referred to in unofficial reports as ADMM‐Plus: Structure andParticipants] and ADMM‐Plus: Modalities and Procedures [also referred to inunofficial reports as ADMM‐Plus: Protocol and Procedures]. All decisions of theADMM have to be approved by the ASEAN Summit first. This will take place later inthe year, in October, when ASEAN will hold its next summit in Hanoi.On the South China Sea: The ADMM three‐year work program, adopted in November2007, includes as one of its items, “contribute to the full implementation of theDeclaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and support theadoption of a regional code of conduct in the South China Sea.” The DOC/SouthChina Sea was not on the formal ADMM agenda as it was not discussed previously atthe ASEAN Chiefs of Defence Force Informal Meeting or the subsequent ASEANDefence Senior Officials Meeting. Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh,nevertheless had an opportunity to raise Vietnam’s concerns at the end of the 4
ADMM meeting when ministers held a dialogue on regional security issues. GeneralThanh also could have availed himself of the opportunity to give a voluntary briefingor raising East Sea issues at an informal retreat of defence ministers.
Minister Thanh raisedVietnam’s concerns aboutthe East Sea in November2009 in informal bilateralmeetings on the sidelines of the 3
ASEAN defenceministers meeting. Hepressed for maritimecooperation involvingThailand, Malaysia,Singapore, Indonesia andBrunei specifically on theissue of handling the case of fishermen who strayed intoanother country’s territorialwaters. Minister Thanhargued that countries shouldnot use force or destroy fishing craft.Since the implementation of the DOC was discussed by an ASEAN and China WorkingGroup in Hanoi on 17
April this issue is now in the hands of non‐defence officials. Atthe moment the ADMM has not yet reached a stage to take decisions involvingoutside parties such as China. Any such decision would have to be discussed at chiefsof defence force and senior official levels.The ADMM was unlikely to discuss the South China Sea prior to setting up theADMM‐Plus process. Any such discussion could spook China in the same way whenthe ASEAN Regional Forum was set up. China initially feared that such a multilateralgrouping would gang up against it on the South China Sea.