Di­a­logue called key to solv­ing sea dis­pute

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By WANG JIAN in Pingx­i­ang, Guangxi and WANG XU in Hanoi

Bei­jing and Hanoi have agreed to seek fun­da­men­tal so­lu­tions to dis­putes over the South China Sea through di­a­logue, with their de­fense min­is­ters con­clud­ing talks on Wed­nes­day,

The two coun­tries have “both the wis­dom and ca­pa­bil­ity to con­trol dis­putes and tackle the South China Sea is­sue prop­erly”, State Coun­cilor and De­fense Min­is­ter Chang Wan­quan told re­porters.

He was speak­ing at a joint news con­fer­ence in Pingx­i­ang, Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, af­ter hold­ing “can­did” dis­cus­sions with his Viet­namese coun­ter­part, Phung Quang Thanh.

The two held a third bor­der meet­ing that started on Mon­day in Lang Son, Viet­nam.

Thanh said at the news con­fer­ence that al­though Viet­nam and China hold dif­fer­ent po­si­tions on the South China Sea, “we both agreed to han­dle the is­sue through peace­ful and friendly ne­go­ti­a­tions on the ba­sis of in­ter­na­tional law, while abid­ing by the con­sen­sus reached by our lead­ers”.

Bi­lat­eral ties have been ham­pered in re­cent years, as the two coun­tries both claim ter­ri­tory in the South China Sea.

Be­fore the bor­der meet­ing, Chang met on Sun­day in Hanoi with Thanh and General Sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of Viet­nam Nguyen Phu Trong, who said Viet­nam val­ues co­op­er­a­tion with China.

He added that mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion has played a ma­jor role in push­ing for­ward re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

Trong vis­ited Bei­jing in April last year, and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping vis­ited Hanoi in Novem­ber, help­ing to im­prove bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

Chang said the two mil­i­taries have reached a con­sen­sus to in­crease high-level ex­changes and boost per­son­nel train­ing, as well as ex­pand­ing co­op­er­a­tion on mil­i­tary aca­demic re­search, the de­fense sec­tor and UN peace­keep­ing.

Shar­ing a bor­der of more than 1,450 kilo­me­ters, China and Viet­nam started joint bor­der pa­trols in 2012, and on Wed­nes­day morn­ing the two min­is­ters wit­nessed pa­trols on both sides of the bor­der.

Chang said the aim of the lat­est bor­der meet­ing is to im­ple­ment the agree­ment reached by the two coun­tries’ lead­ers, and strengthen the po­lit­i­cal trust and prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion of both armies to con­trib­ute to peace and sta­bil­ity along the bor­der.

Ma­jor Wang Ming­wen, head of the Chi­nese pa­trol squad, said the joint pa­trols help to avoid mis­un­der­stand­ings and con­flict be­tween the two armies in han­dling prob­lems such as “in­cur­sions” by peo­ple liv­ing near the bor­der to plant crops, or other il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

By con­duct­ing the pa­trols, com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Viet­namese can be es­tab­lished to unify their coun­ter­mea­sures when deal­ing with sim­i­lar prob­lems, Wang said.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Nguyen Xuan Thang, head of the Viet­namese squad, said the joint pa­trols also help to strengthen friend­ship and trust be­tween sol­diers.

Jia Duqiang, a re­searcher of South­east Asia stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences’ Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Strat­egy, said the min­is­ters’ re­marks show that the two coun­tries will not let the South China Sea dis­pute af­fect over­all re­la­tions.

Jia said the ex­pe­ri­ence and trust ac­cu­mu­lated in pre­vi­ous bor­der ne­go­ti­a­tions will be con­ducive to the even­tual so­lu­tion to the South China Sea dis­pute, which is the only re­main­ing bor­der dis­pute be­tween the two coun­tries.

We both agreed to han­dle the is­sue through peace­ful and friendly ne­go­ti­a­tions on the ba­sis of in­ter­na­tional law.”

Wang Qingyun in Bei­jing con­trib­uted to this story.

Con­tact the writ­ers at wangxu@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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