China, Vietnam to ease tensions through talks

08:29, June 27, 2011      

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China and Vietnam Sunday agreed to tone down their disputes that threatened to seriously hurt their relations by conducting negotiations over the South China Sea, a sign of easing tension between the two countries.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo met Vietnamese Vice Foreign Minister Ho Xuan Son, special envoy of the Vietnamese leadership, in Beijing Saturday, China's Foreign Ministry said.

The two governments later disclosed that they agreed to "peacefully resolve their maritime disputes through negotiations and friendly consultations," according to the official Xinhua News Agency. And, the two consented to adopt measures to "jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea".

Healthy and steady development of Sino-Vietnamese ties accords with the basic interests and common aspirations of the peoples of the two Asian countries and is also conducive to regional peace, stability and development, said the Chinese foreign ministry.

Both countries vowed to speed up consultation to reach a pact on the "fundamental principles" that are needed to solve maritime disputes between China and Vietnam, and pledged to sign it as soon as possible.

Relations between the two countries had been strained in the past month over sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea. Both conducted naval exercises there, but analysts said neither was interested in exacerbating the situation.

The meeting shows that both sides want to "cool the temperature" and don't want the South China Sea issue to worsen and get out of control, said Chu Hao, an expert on Vietnamese studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Yang Baoyun, professor of Southeast Asian studies at Peking University, said the disputes over the South China Sea have, "to some extent", been exaggerated in the media.

The possibility of military conflict is remote, The China Daily quoted him as saying.
The two governments agreed to "strengthen public opinion guidance to prevent words and actions that would be detrimental to the friendship and mutual trust between the peoples of the two countries."

The two sides also gave a nod to prompt implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and its follow-up actions. Since the signing of the DOC in 2002, China has actively pushed forward the implementation of the follow-up actions of the DOC.

In the past nine years, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have hosted two senior officials' meetings and established a joint working group on the implementation of the DOC.

By People's Daily Online
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