At the previous summit in April, which was also held by video link, ASEAN leaders did not agree on the release of emergency funds.
The Vietnamese prime minister, without explicitly naming him, reproached Beijing for continuing to make territorial claims to much of the South China Sea, taking advantage of the pandemic. China has been accused of militarizing the area by deploying warships and outposts on the islands, the agency said.
During the pandemic, “there were irresponsible actions in violation of international law,” said Nguyen Xuan Phuq, apparently referring to China, which is suspected of sinking a Vietnamese trawler in the area in April.
Vietnam will use the ASEAN presidency to launch a code of conduct that the bloc has been working on for several years, but the project was abandoned due to the pandemic, and Hanoi now hopes to intensify discussions on it.
The summit will also provide an opportunity for countries to try to relaunch the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership project – a multilateral free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region promoted by Beijing. Work on the project has stalled since India withdrew from it in late 2019.