Published:January 14, 2017 5:45 pm
China sought to improve political and military ties with Vietnam, shelving the maritime dispute over the South China Sea, during Vietnamese Communist Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong’s ongoing visit amid Hanoi’s push for closer relations with India, state-run media here has said. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also heads the ruling Communist Party of China, during his meeting with Phu yesterday termed China and Vietnam as “Comrades and Brothers”, highlighting fraternal ties between the two neighbours ruled by Communist parties.
With regards to the South China Sea dispute, Xi said both sides should increase communication and consolidate mutual trust in order to lay a solid political foundation for the settlement of disputes and work together on maritime exploration and cooperation, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Fan Changlong told Vietnamese Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich during their meeting here yesterday that the armies of the two countries should continue to enhance mutual trust, properly manage and control disputes, and help push the China-Vietnam all-round strategic cooperative partnership to a new level.
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A commentary by Xinhua news agency said China and Vietnam are looking forward to a promising future in relations and during Phu’s visit he and his high-level delegation has met Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and other top Chinese leaders. About the South China Sea (SCS) dispute, the commentary said in recent years, China and Vietnam have jointly patrolled and explored for oil in the Beibu Gulf, demarcation of which set an example for the handling of South China Sea disputes.
Vietnam, besides the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan contest China’s claims over almost all of SCS. “Success stories demonstrate that both countries are committed to shelving their maritime differences through cooperation rather than confrontation, which will yield more win-win results and larger-scale cooperation,” it said. Ahead of Phu’s visit, Chinese state-run daily Global Times took exception to reports that India plans to sell Akash surface-to-air missile system to Hanoi.
Any moves by India to step up military ties with Vietnam to counter China will create “disturbance” in the region and Beijing will not “sit with its arms crossed”, an oped in the paper had said. While striking a threatening posture against India over its increasingly close-knit ties with Vietnam, another article in the same daily had warned Hanoi that it must improve ties with China notwithstanding the South China Sea dispute.