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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 25 June 2024

Xi calls for 'mutually acceptable solutions' to resolve South China Sea dispute as he visits Vietnam

Xi, 70, arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday for a two-day visit, his first after six years to hold intense round talks with fellow Communist leaders from Vietnam

PTI Beijing/Hanoi Published 12.12.23, 07:26 PM
Chinese President XI Jinping

Chinese President XI Jinping File photo

On a key visit to pacify Vietnam amid rising tensions in the disputed South China Sea, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday struck a reconciliatory tone, saying that both Beijing and Hanoi should find “mutually acceptable solutions” to resolve the differences.

Xi, 70, arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday for a two-day visit, his first after six years to hold intense round talks with fellow Communist leaders from Vietnam to woo them with a host of new deals, including a new rail project, amid Hanoi’s rising profile in the global markets and its growing strategic ties with the US.

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Vietnam is attracting substantial foreign investments as several multinational companies moved supply chains from China over apprehensions of security-related issues.

As he landed in Hanoi with his wife Peng Liyuan to a rousing welcome, Xi called for Beijing and Hanoi to find “mutually acceptable solutions” to their South China Sea dispute and achieve long-term regional stability.

China and Vietnam have “camaraderie plus brotherhood” and should “always keep in mind our shared visions and missions”, Xi was quoted as saying in an article published in Hanoi mouthpiece Nhan Dan.

“Both sides need to act on the common understandings reached by the leaders of our two parties and countries, properly manage differences on maritime issues, and jointly look for mutually acceptable solutions,” Xi said.

Xi's Vietnam visit assumed significance as it coincided with increasing tensions between China and the Philippines, with several confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels in recent days.

Vietnam, The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over the South China Sea. For its part, China claims most of the South China Sea, which now has become a new theatre of confrontation.

The confrontation between the Philippines Navy and Chinese coast guard vessels is becoming a daily occurrence. On Monday, both countries summoned their envoys and lodged protests and counter-protests over aggressive movements of their naval ships.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday that besides attempts to “occupy” areas in the South China Sea, the Philippines has also been spreading disinformation to hype up the incidents between the two navies.

“This gravely violates international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and seriously infringes on China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

The Philippines has also restored its close ties with the US under the Presidency of Bongbong Marcos.

On his first visit to a fellow Communist country, Xi also wants to shore up ties as Hanoi buried the hatchet of the liberation war and moved closer to the US amid its festering dispute with Beijing.

After landing in Hanoi, Xi held talks with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong, besides President Vo Van Thuong, and also met Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Xi's trip to Vietnam comes after a rare visit by US President Joe Biden to Hanoi in September during which both the countries, much to the chagrin of Beijing, agreed to upgrade their ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, turning the page over their bitter war during Vietnam's independence movement.

Vietnam is seen as a tough neighbour in China as it fought a border war with it in 1979, inflicting heavy casualties and remained steadfast in opposing Beijing's expansive claims over the disputed South China Sea, besides attracting foreign investments from China.

Vietnam establishing close ties with the US, turning the page on its bitter war with America during its independence struggle has become a major concern for Beijing. Vietnam has also established close security and political ties with India.

Ahead of Xi's visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Vietnam earlier this month during which he proposed an increase in trade connectivity and upgrading of railway links between both countries.

During the visit, Wang said China and Vietnam should actively promote mutually beneficial cooperation at sea, prevent the involvement of external forces, and accelerate consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Observers say Xi is expected to reset China's close ties with Vietnam during his visit with a host of deals, including the opening of Chinese markets for Vietnamese goods to keep the Communist neighbour in Beijing's strategic orbit.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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