Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn told an informal meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers on Wednesday that Cambodia will stay neutral on the South China Sea.
He appealed to all stakeholders to continue fostering a conducive environment that contributes to the end of the territorial conflict.
Sokhonn made his statement during an ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) meeting and the 26th ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) via video conference. The meetings were being held before the 36th ASEAN summit on Friday.
“On the South China Sea issue, Cambodia, a non-claimant state, wishes to stay neutral on territorial disputes, and we hope that all parties concerned will continue to maintain a conducive environment for safeguarding peace, security and stability in the region,” Sokhonn said.
He said besides the epidemiological and socio-economic challenges, ASEAN is facing mounting geopolitical predicaments as a result of the intensified strategic competition between the great powers.
“Despite mounting pressure on ASEAN centrality, ASEAN states are not interested in choosing sides and are supportive of a rules-based multilateral system, which has come under continuous attack,” he said.
The ministry’s press release said ASEAN foreign ministers also exchanged views on regional and international affairs, including the Rohingya conflict in Rakhine state in western Myanmar and issues on the Korean Peninsula.
The ASEAN website said the Friday summit will discuss strengthening cooperation on public health and a Covid-19 regional recovery plan. The meeting will be hosted by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the rotating president of ASEAN.
Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said on Thursday that the Kingdom’s stance on the South China Sea was correct because Cambodia is not linked to this territorial dispute.
“I agree with what Prak Sokhonn said. This stance is important for China-ASEAN relation as well as bilateral relations between all ASEAN members with China,” Phea sad.