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Cambodia and Vietnam demand that international law be upheld in the South China Sea.

On Wednesday, Cambodia and Vietnam urged adherence to international law in the disputed South China Sea, requesting adherence to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The two sides “reiterated Asean’s position on the necessity of maintaining peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea,” according to a joint communiqué issued following the Vietnamese president’s three-day state visit to the kingdom.

Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the Vietnamese president, is in Cambodia, where he met with senior authorities, including Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The two members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) advocated for increased engagement and trust in the South China Sea.

The mineral-rich warm seas of the South China Sea have long been a source of contention between China, regional countries, and the United States and its allies.

With coasts on the South China Sea, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are also Asean members.

China and a number of other countries in the region have made claims to the marine organization.

China’s claims are based on its official maps’ “nine-dash line,” which represents Beijing’s historical claims to the South China Sea.

The Philippines won a dispute at The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 that declared China’s sweeping claims over the resource-rich South China Sea illegal.

China has criticized the US and its partners for sending warships to the region on a regular basis, accusing Washington of weaponizing the waterways. China’s extensive maritime claims have been opposed by Western countries.

Cambodia and Vietnam advocated moderation, supporting international law, and peacefully settling problems in accordance with international legal agreements, including the UNCLOS, “without resorting to the threat of use of force,” without singling out any country.

“Full and effective implementation of the South China Sea Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DoC) in its entirety,” the two countries have demanded.

The DoC is a South China Sea conduct agreement agreed by Asean and China in November 2002, which marked China’s first acceptance of a multilateral agreement on the subject.

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the declaration, and Asean and China are organizing a series of events to mark the occasion.

Cambodia and Vietnam also demanded the “conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (CoC) accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

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