Hanoi, Bei­jing agree to back off con­flicts in S China Sea

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

HANOI: Viet­nam and China agreed on Mon­day to back away from con­flicts in the South China Sea, in a move aimed at eas­ing ten­sions over Bei­jing’s claims to most of the wa­ter­way.

The com­mu­nist neigh­bours have long-sparred over the sea — to which Brunei, Tai­wan and the Philip­pines also have par­tial claims — through which $5 tril­lion in ship­ping trade passes an­nu­ally. China has built ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands and airstrips ca­pa­ble of host­ing mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions in the sea, which is be­lieved to sit atop vast oil and gas de­posits.

Hanoi and Bei­jing agreed on Mon­day to keep the peace in the sea, the coun­tries said in a joint state­ment dur­ing a state visit to Hanoi by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

They agreed to “well man­age dis­putes at sea, make no moves that may com­pli­cate or ex­pand dis­putes, (and) main­tain peace and sta­bil­ity on the East Sea,” the Viet­namese ver­sion of the state­ment said, us­ing Hanoi’s term for the sea.

Ten­sions flared ear­lier this year when Viet­nam sus­pended an oil ex­plo­ration project in an area off its coast that China claims as its own, re­port­edly fol­low­ing pres­sure from Bei­jing.

Re­la­tions hit rock bot­tom in 2014 when Bei­jing moved an oil rig into wa­ters claimed by Viet­nam, spark­ing weeks of protests.

— Reuters

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping (L) with Viet­namese Pres­i­dent Tran Dai Quang at the Pres­i­den­tial Palace in Hanoi on Mon­day.

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