Ministers hold key discussions

Updated: 2015-05-18 07:31

By Zhang Yunbi in Mengzi, Yunnan(China Daily)

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Talks between Chinese and Vietnamese defense chiefs a 'sign of cooperation and friendship'

China and Vietnam have "both the wisdom and capability to achieve success in tackling maritime issues", State Councilor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said on Sunday after talks with his Vietnamese counterpart.

Chang was speaking at a joint news conference with Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh in Mengzi, Yunnan province, after their second meeting. The first took place on Friday in Lao Cai, Vietnam. The two ministers also witnessed joint patrols on both sides of the border.

The meetings were the first between defense ministers of the two countries - talks were held last year at the deputy defense minister level.

Relations between Beijing and Hanoi became strained last year after China started an oil drilling operation near its Zhongjian Island. Violent protests broke out in Vietnam.

On Sunday, the defense ministers underscored the necessity of "creating and enabling circumstances in the neighborhood" for both countries' domestic economic development.

Thanh told reporters the meetings were of historical significance and described witnessing border patrols with Chang at the weekend as a "sign of cooperation and friendship".

In 2011, the two countries agreed to hold joint border patrols and these began at the start of 2012.

Zhu Libin, a Chinese leader of the joint patrols, said they help to end incursions by people living near the border to plant crops, hunt or set up home.

The patrols also increase public awareness of the national borders, said Zhu.

Earlier in the day, the two defense chiefs attended a drill by the Chinese border defense force.

On Sunday, both countries decided to take steps to further develop the relationship between their two militaries, especially strengthening cooperation on border defense, Chang said.

One of the next steps, he said, will be to implement the consensus reached by Xi Jinping, general-secretary of the Communist Party of China, and Xi's Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong.

Upgrading the border meeting to ministerial-level was decided after Trong's April visit to Beijing, Chang said.

Thanh said Vietnam places great priority on the relationship between the two militaries and is ready to work with China on furthering their friendship.

(China Daily 05/18/2015 page4)