Vietnam and China Agree to Settle Differences over the South China Sea

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R), who is also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, have a tea chat after their talks in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 12, 2017. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

China and Vietnam on Saturday issued a joint communique, pledging to manage maritime differences and safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea after years of tensions between both countries.

The communique was issued as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong paid a four-day official visit to China since Thursday.

China and Vietnam had “a candid exchange of views” on maritime issues, according to the communique.

Both countries pledged to seek basic and long-term solutions that both sides can accept via negotiation, and discuss transitional solutions that will not affect each other’s stance including the research of joint development, it said. Both sides agreed to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea and strive for the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC) on the basis of consensus in the framework of the DOC.

Both sides agreed to manage maritime differences and avoid any acts that may complicate the situation and escalate tensions so as to safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea, it said.

During Trong’s four-day visit, he met with five of the seven members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, including talks with General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping, and separate meetings with Premier Li Keqiang  and other top officials.

Both sides believed that the visit was a great success that had further enhanced political mutual trust, deepened strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and contributed to regional peace and stability.

Both sides also encouraged cooperation on economy and trade, defense, security and law enforcement, cultural, youth and local areas, the communique said.

The Vietnamese side stressed that it is the top priority of Vietnam’s foreign policy to enhance all-round strategic cooperation with China.

A stable and closer China-Vietnam relationship lies not just in their proximity — the two share a border stretching 1,450 kilometers — but few countries have as much in common as China and Vietnam. With similar political systems, they are both communist Party-led socialist states, intertwined in advancing the cause of socialism.

The two economies are closely linked. China is the largest trading partner of Vietnam, which in turn is China’s second largest trade partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

After 30 years of Doi Moi (renewal), Vietnam still faces challenges in terms of infrastructure development. This area, along with investment and trade, is expected to be expanded through aligning its “Two Corridors and One Economic Circle” with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In 2017, Vietnam will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. China has promised its support and the two sides are expected to jointly promote globalization against protectionism and facilitate negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

China and Vietnam, two of the six countries along the Lancang-Mekong River, can benefit from the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism focusing on security and development, as well as political, social and cultural fields.

The warming in relations between both countries is likely to translate into a relaxation in travel for Chinese holidaymakers to Vietnam. Especially new flights are likely to be launched. China is already Vietnam largest source market. Last year, Chinese travellers to Vietnam totaled 2,696,848, up by over 50% over 2015.

(Source: Xinhua)