South China Sea's sea-related issues exchanging between Vietnam and China's views

Vietnam and China's Senior officials engaged in candid discussion about the recent situation at sea and their differences regarding sea-related issues at their July 21 meeting.
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The meeting is co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The 12th meeting of the Steering Committee for Vietnam-China Bilateral Cooperation, held in the form of teleconferencing, was co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Representatives of many Vietnamese ministries, agencies, and People’s Committees of Hanoi, Hai Phong city and seven northern border provinces also attended the event.

The two sides shared the view that since the committee’s 11th meeting in September 2018, the bilateral relationship has kept its overall positive growth momentum.

High-level contact has been maintained in a flexible manner, they said, noting phone talks and exchanges of letters and greetings between Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended a number of economic forums in China, and talked on the phone with Chinese PM Li Keqiang on cooperation in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan also made an official visit China, they added.

Cooperation between ministries and agencies, and exchanges between localities have also been expanded.

Two-way trade rose 4.5% in the first half of this year despite the impact of the pandemic. Chinese investment in Vietnam surged in 2019, and China now ranks seventh among 132 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, China had been the biggest source of tourists to Vietnam for many consecutive years, while Vietnam was among the top countries in ASEAN with large numbers of holidaymakers visiting China.

The two countries have organised many activities to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.

They, however, pointed to outstanding issues in the bilateral ties, such as Vietnam’s trade deficit with China, the sluggish progress of certain projects whose investors and contractors are Chinese, and the slow implementation of preferential loans and non-refundable aid from China.

Given this, the two sides agreed to promote high-level visits when situation allows, maintain contact through appropriate forms amidst the pandemic’s complicated development, and step up cooperation between the two parties.

The two foreign ministries should play a more active role in coordinating and enhancing the bilateral ties, while collaboration mechanisms in national defence and security, and law enforcement should be implemented more effectively, they suggested.

The two sides shared experience and discussed cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 as well as the resumption of commercial flights, thus facilitating travelling and trading activities.

They agreed to work to boost cooperation in terms of trade, investment, and sustainable development.

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Deputy PM and FM Pham Binh Minh at the meeting

Deputy PM Minh asked the Chinese side to facilitate bilateral trade activities, including border trade; import more Vietnamese products, especially farm produce; and encourage Chinese enterprises to expand their investment in hi-tech and environmentally friendly sectors in Vietnam.

He also urged China to direct the thoroughly solution of existing problems in a number of cooperative projects.

Wang affirmed that he will push the governing bodies of China to actively consider Vietnam's proposals.

The two sides also agreed on stronger cooperation in science-technology, environmental protection, transportation, agriculture, health care, culture, education, tourism and people-to-people exchange, and to support each other at multilateral forums.

Regarding land border, the two sides said that the management of border lines, boundary markers and border gates has been implemented well, while cross-border economic activities have been promoted despite the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They agreed to strengthen coordination in border management and protection, strictly abide by provisions of the three legal documents on land borders and related agreements.

For sea-related issues, the two sides acknowledged the results of the 10 negotiations on maritime delimitation and joint development cooperation at sea conducted following the 11th meeting of the Steering Committee for Vietnam–China Bilateral Cooperation; and the fruits of cooperation in less sensitive fields at sea.

They engaged in candid discussion about the recent situation at sea and their differences regarding sea-related issue.

Minh voiced his concern about the complicated developments in the Bien Dong Sea (South China Sea) recently, and proposed that the two sides control well disputes at sea, refrain from actions that complicate the situation and extend disputes, and maintain peace and stability in the waters. He asked the Chinese side to respect Vietnam's relevant legitimate rights and interests.

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A panoramic view of the Vietnam-China meeting

The two sides pledged to abide by high-level common perception and the Vietnam-China agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues, comply with international laws, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), promote result-oriented negotiation mechanisms on maritime issues; fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the Bien Dong Sea (DOC), and step up negotiations over a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) for substantial results.

They also agreed to exchange a list of issues that need the two sides’ coordination to address in the coming time after the meeting.

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