Nations vow to talk on South China Sea

Updated: 2011-10-17 08:19

(China Daily)

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BEIJING - China and Vietnam pledged to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea, and keep calm and restrained rather than take any action that will complicate and expand disputes, according to a joint statement issued on Saturday as Communist Party of Vietnam General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong concluded his China visit.

The two countries also reaffirmed their political will to settle maritime issues through negotiations and friendly consultation.

China and Vietnam have a long-standing dispute over sovereignty of part of South China Sea, which has potentially oil-rich waters and a vital commercial shipping route.

"Neither side shall allow any hostile force to destroy the relations between the two parties and the two countries," according to the joint statement.

Both sides will step up negotiations on maritime issues, seek basic and long-term approaches that will be acceptable for both sides, and explore interim and temporary solutions, including research and negotiations on the joint development of the sea, without impacting each side's stance and position, it said.

On the military front, China and Vietnam agreed to strengthen cooperation. The vice-ministerial strategic dialogue between the two defense ministries will be maintained and a hotline for the two countries' defense ministries is expected to be established, according to the statement.

The two countries also agreed to launch a pilot project of joint patrols along their land border at a appropriate time, continue joint naval patrols in the Beibu Gulf and increase naval exchanges.

Both sides agree to fully prepare for the third ministerial meeting between the two public security ministries on cooperation in crime prevention, and take steps to crack down on illegal border crossing and coordinate in new areas such as fighting telecom fraud.

Both sides spoke highly of the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of maritime issues existing between the two countries, which was signed on Tuesday by Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and his Vietnamese counterpart Ho Xuan Son.

Beijing and Hanoi will seek steady progress in negotiations regarding the maritime demarcation of the mouth of the Beibu Gulf, the statement said.

Cooperation in marine environmental protection, scientific research, search and rescue, and disaster reduction and prevention will also be promoted.

Trong's China visit was a positive step to restore strained relations, said Chu Hao, a researcher with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"The joint statement showed the two sides' determination to work in areas both parties could accept," said Chu.

Yet observers also cautioned that Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang signed an oil exploration agreement in New Delhi last week, which will bring Indian state-owned enterprises into the disputed area.