China, Vietnam engage in joint naval patrols

08:22, June 22, 2011      

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China and Vietnam have concluded two days of joint naval patrols, including a port call in China, despite a dispute over claims in the South China Sea, Vietnamese state media said yesterday.

Two ships from each country took part in the joint patrols Sunday and Monday, sailing more than 300 nautical miles in the Beibu Gulf bordering China and Vietnam, the Vietnam's People's Army Newspaper said.

The two governments signed a demarcation treaty for the Beibu Gulf area in 2000.

"Respecting the signed agreements is one of the factors that will promote the friendly and neighborly relations between the two countries and ensure stability and security at sea," the newspaper quoted Nguyen Van Kiem, deputy chief of staff of Vietnam's navy, as saying.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday in Beijing that Beijing would try to work toward a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea dispute.

The joint patrols were the 11th since 2005 between the two countries.

Relations between the two states cooled in recent weeks as they traded diplomatic punches over territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

"The South China Sea has led to a souring of political relations but has not yet spilled over to affect the broad and deep nature of Sino-Vietnam relations," said Carlyle Thayer, a Vietnam expert at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra. "The holding of the exercises is a good sign."

Last week, Vietnam held live-fire naval drills off its central coast.

The Chinese language Global Times commented in an editorial, saying: "If Vietnam wishes to create a war in the South China Sea, China will resolutely keep them company." The newspaper warned Vietnam not to play up the dispute, which will further damage bilateral relations

By People's Daily Online / Shanghai Daily
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