Vietnam’s Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong. Photo by Reuters/File Photo
‘Do not let ASEAN become a playing card for the competition among major countries,’ said Vietnam’s leader.
Vietnam’s most powerful leader has called for greater unity among Southeast Asian states in challenging China’s territorial claims in the East Sea, the Vietnamese reference for the South China Sea.
Making the first visit by a Vietnamese Communist Party chief to Indonesia since 1959, Nguyen Phu Trong said in a speech televised at home on Wednesday that the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) needed to be unified in resolving territorial disputes.
“Do not let ASEAN become a playing card for the competition among major countries,” Trong said, without identifying which he meant.
Trong’s visit is the first made by a Vietnamese Party chief to Indonesia since late President Ho Chi Minh’s visit in 1959, and the first visit made by a top Vietnamese leader since the two nations established a strategic partnership in June 2013.
China claims most of the South China Sea, while Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei claim parts of the sea, which commands strategic sealanes and has rich fishing grounds along with oil and gas deposits.
More than $3 trillion in cargo pass South China Sea every year.
After Indonesia, Trong is due to visit Myanmar at the invitation of President Htin Kyaw.