Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (6th L) attends the signing ceremony of the amended version of the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing China-ASEAN Center in Manila, the Philippines, Aug. 6, 2017. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)
By Yang Ke, Yuan Mengchen
MANILA, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- In a joint communique issued on Sunday night, the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) applauded the economic and security achievements China and ASEAN have made in the past year, yet Vietnam stood out in a wave of positive efforts.
The ASEAN ministers commended the "growing role" of China in the region, saying the region continues to reap the fruits of China's strong economic growth.
On the South China Sea issue, the ministers said the progress made on a code of conduct showed that the two sides have the ability to control differences and manage disputes.
Despite the shared expectation of and joint efforts made by China and most ASEAN members in calming the disputes in the South China Sea, Vietnam tried to force its own agenda into the draft communique, a source close to the meeting told Xinhua.
Vietnam, who started the land reclamation work on illegally occupied Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea as early as in the 1980s and 1990s, "expressed serious concerns over recent developments in the area and wanted to insert 'such as extended construction' into the draft communique."
Such a trick of "thief crying stop thief" aimed at putting pressure on China was futile, and the phrase was finally dropped in the face of opposition from other ASEAN countries.
The facts speak for themselves. Vietnam is the very country who has vigorously seized islands, reclaimed lands and pushed for militarization in the South China Sea.
After years of gradual encroachment of Chinese islands and reefs, figures show that since 2007, Vietnam has increased the pace of its large-scale land reclamation on 21 of the illegally occupied islands and reefs, and even built a number of new military facilities in the South China Sea.
The situation in the South China Sea has been largely stabilized after a year of joint efforts, with China and the ASEAN continue to enjoy a good relationship. The cordial atmosphere in the China-ASEAN meetings and the upbeat content of the communique this year are evident to the tide.
Vietnam's unconstructive attempt to poison the already improved situation in the South China Sea and to sow discord between China and the ASEAN is not welcomed in the region.
China and ASEAN ministers adopted on Sunday the Framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. It was lauded as a significant step towards a regional code of conduct and in reducing tensions in the area.
Wilfrido Villacorta, former Philippine ambassador and permanent representative to ASEAN called the framework "a tribute to China as a leading strategic partner of ASEAN that respects its neighbors and shares its Asian values of reciprocity, solidarity and good neighborliness."
It is high time that Vietnam readjusts its approach and attitude, and sincerely joins the efforts of regional countries to promote peace and common prosperity in the South China Sea.