Vietnam calls on China not to complicate maritime issues

By Anh Ngoc   July 14, 2016 | 10:27 pm PT
The two prime ministers meet after the ruling against China's territorial claims.

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has urged his Chinese counterpart to avoid a knee-jerk reaction after an international ruling dismissed Beijing's claims in vast swaths of the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.

Phuc met with Li Keqiang on Thursday in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator on the sidelines of the 11th Asia-Europe Summit. During the meeting, Phuc asked both countries to strictly adhere to an agreement previously reached by top leaders on the East Sea. 

He referred to the fact that the two sides have agreed to strictly implement the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues between Vietnam and China.

The two sides have so far agreed to resolve maritime disputes through peaceful means and maintain regular information exchanges and dialogues to seek long-term solutions.

The two countries have also agreed to develop a dialogue framework to settle maritime issues and resolve any disputes in the waters.

Prime Minister Phuc also urged China not to complicate the current situation and called for full respect for all provisions of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). He also hoped that the countries in the Association Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China will soon finalize the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).

Last year, at the 48th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, China’s foreign minister said China would keep five commitments on the South China Sea issue. They include maintaining peace and stability in the sea, peacefully solving disputes through negotiation and consultation, controlling differences through rules and regulations, maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the area, and gaining mutual benefits through cooperation.

Phuc said Vietnam welcomes the decision by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, stating that China has no legal basis to claim sovereignty over the waters.

In response, Chinese Premier Le Keqiang called on Vietnam to join China in ensuring peace and stability in the East Sea.

Li Keqiang valued the fact that both countries jointly control and settle maritime disputes in a reasonable manner so that China and Vietnam can continue to promote the development of bilateral relations.

Earlier this week, the international tribunal in The Hague overwhelmingly rejected China’s claims to historic rights under the nine-dash line, also known as the cow’s tongue, in the East Sea.

Chinese state media Xinhua said China "does not accept and does not recognize” The Hague tribunal's judgment.

The Spratlys and Paracels are two island chains in the sea that a number of countries, including Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, have laid claim to.

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