‘Correct political decisions’ must be made to overcome disputes, Xi tells Vietnam envoy

After fall-out over oil rig, president tells Vietnamese Politburo member disputes can be overcome

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 4:45am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 11:09am

President Xi Jinping said China and Vietnam should take appropriate steps to address their conflicts as he held talks with a senior Vietnamese politician amid strained ties between the two nations over territorial disputes.

Xi said it was inevitable the neighbours would have disputes, but they should both make "correct political decisions" to put ties on the right track.

The president met Le Hong Anh, a special envoy of Vietnam's Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong.

Anh is on a two-day fence-mending trip after tensions between the two countries over disputed islands in the South China Sea led to deadly anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam in May.

During the talks both sides promised to seek a peaceful resolution to the territorial disputes and to resume stalled cooperation in several areas.

Xi told Anh that the relationship between China and Vietnam had been "subject to a severe shock".

"The key is what attitude and methods we use to handle our disputes," Xi said.

"China and Vietnam have to insist on maintaining the traditional friendship and relationship between the two nations and removing all obstacles and properly resolving the relevant problems."

In a separate meeting, Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan said the top leadership of the two parties would give more directives to push for development of bilateral ties.

Premier Li Keqiang said last October that China and Vietnam had the wisdom to keep the South China Sea peaceful after the two countries agreed to set up a working group on joint exploration of the disputed waters, along with stepping up economic and financial cooperation.

But talks on closer ties were halted in May after Beijing's deployment of an oil rig to the disputed Paracel Islands, sparking the protests in Vietnam.

State Councillor Yang Jiechi went to Hanoi in June to try to ease tensions, but the diplomatic freeze remained until last month, when the oil rig was removed.

Zhang Mingliang, an expert in Southeast Asian affairs at Jinan University, said Anh's trip was a genuine attempt to improve relations between the two countries' communist parties amid the strained ties.

"It is hoped that officials between the two parties can form some directives on improving ties and pass them to the government," Zhang said.

Vietnam is of more concern to China in Southeast Asia because its military is more advanced and it controls more islands in the South China Sea than the Philippines, said Zhang.

This meant Beijing was more willing to hold talks with Hanoi than Manila, he said.