BEIJING, June 4 -- Shutting out third parties, which mostly meddle for their own gains, ending the oil rig tension in the South China Sea will come down to how China and Vietnam perceive each other.
Like a personal relationship, the closer two countries are, the more complicated their relations will be.
China and Vietnam go way back, overlapping history mixed with friendship and fallings-out. Now though, Vietnam's repeated provocation against a Chinese oil company's normal operation near the Xisha Islands has created the tensest situation between the two countries in the past few years.
What has happened can not be changed but what the two countries do from now on will not only affect their bilateral ties but also regional stability and security.
China has made it quite clear what it will do.
At the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Shanghai last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping promoted a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security strategy for Asia.
This approach was reiterated at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last week.
From a perspective of a zero-sum game, Vietnam surely needs to worry about an increasingly stronger and bigger neighbor like China.
However, this is not the game China is going to play. President Xi called it a Cold War mentality.
"No country should seek absolute security for itself at the expense of others... We cannot just have security for one or a few countries while leaving the rest insecure," he said at the CICA summit.
Under its security concept, China upholds equality, inclusiveness and cooperation in Asia.
As Xi suggested, security problems in Asia should be solved by Asians themselves through cooperation. This dispute in the South China Sea can also only be solved jointly by China and Vietnam.
The question is whether Vietnam has an open mind and vision to share this new security concept with China.
The two countries are different in terms of size, population, economic and political strength and have different opinions about some issues. But they are also similar in tradition, culture and politics, and have common interests. Vietnam needs to decide to focus on difference or similarity.
Confrontation is no good to Vietnam. The stand-off with China, its closet economic partner, has cost the country a lot, rousing instability, causing unemployment and undermining its reputation in the eyes of international investors.
For some countries, the tension in the South China Sea is a chance to infiltrate their influence into a remote region. The lingering chaos fits their needs.
For China and Vietnam, it is their day-to-day life being affected. The sooner the tension eases, the more they can focus on real, important issues.