Vietnam, China agree to deepen relations and maintain peace, stability in troubled waters

By Vu Hoang   November 13, 2017 | 12:00 am GMT+7

Vietnam's Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong and his Chinese counterpart Xi witnessed the signing of 12 cooperative agreements.

Vietnam and China on Sunday reached agreements on the directions they will take to deepen relations between the two countries, according to Vietnam's foreign ministry.

The agreements were reached during a meeting in Hanoi between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong on the first day of Xi's two-day state visit to Vietnam.

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping (L) and Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the meeting on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Government Portal

At the meeting, Trong said that Vietnam attaches great importance to and hopes to promote the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.

He stressed that increasing high-level, ministry-level and agency-level exchanges and cooperation would be the key to deepening friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Trong also called for more efficient economic cooperations and implementation of high-level agreements. Key areas that need improvements include bilateral trade volume, Vietnam's trade deficit and cooperation in investment, agriculture, science and technology, transport, nuclear safety and tackling climate change and flooding.

Regarding maritime issues in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, Trong emphasized the importance and benefits of maintaining peace and stability and building trust.

He called for all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from taking action that could complicate the situation or escalate disputes. All sides need to respect each other's legal and legitimate interests and focus on maintaining peace and stability in the region.

Trong requested that both Vietnam and China fully and effectively implement the Vietnam-China Agreement on Basic Principles Guiding the Settlement of Maritime Issues and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. He also called for an early initiation of substantive negotiations to develop the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and called for both countries to settle disputes through cooperation and in accordance with international law.

Additionally, the Party general secretary proposed researching potential cooperation between ASEAN and China in less sensitive maritime areas such as fishing and environmental protection in order to build trust and maintain long-term peace and stability in the East Sea.

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The meeting between Chinese and Vietnamese leaders. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Government Portal.

Xi affirmed China always attaches great importance to consolidating and developing the China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

The Chinese president agreed with the directions and methods proposed by Trong and suggested that both countries need to consider their relations from a strategic and long-term view in order to develop stable relations.

After the meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of 12 cooperation agreements in infrastructure, border economic cooperation zones, e-commerce, healthcare, energy, culture, banking and defense. The agreements also included a memorandum of understanding to promote the connection between the "Two corridors, one economic belt" project and the "Belt and Road" initiative.

China is one of the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam and its biggest trade partner. Bilateral trade value reached $72 billion last year, with Vietnam's trade deficit hitting $28 billion.

The northern neighbor is also Vietnam's biggest tourism market. Official data showed that more than 3.2 million Chinese visited Vietnam in the first 10 months this year, up 45 percent from a year ago and accounting for nearly a third of all foreign arrivals.