Fearful of rising tensions in the disputed South China Sea, Vietnam will attempt this week to overturn a recent Chinese diplomatic victory in keeping the issue firmly off the agenda of the Asean grouping. As current host of the twice-yearly gathering of the 10 leaders of Southeast Asia, Hanoi is pushing for action to start talks about the need for a legally binding code of conduct between Asean and China on the South China Sea. The push comes after a week of tit-for-tat exchanges between the two former enemies that ended with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet travelling to a disputed island to tell naval officers that Vietnam was prepared to 'fight for the sovereignty of the fatherland in any situation'. Beijing successfully thwarted similar moves last year, stressing both publicly and privately that disputes should be solved bilaterally between China and individual claimant countries rather than through 'arguments' at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - a move that analysts said effectively strengthened Beijing's position given its emerging economic and military power. Hanoi appears in no mood to roll over, however, and wants to make full use of its year as Asean chairman to get the issue back on the agenda. Asean leaders hold their first summit of the year in Hanoi starting on Wednesday. Vietnam's deputy foreign minister, Pham Quang Vinh, said last week that 'everything and anything related to regional security' would be discussed during the summit. But he acknowledged that whether the need for a code of conduct would appear in any final joint communique would depend on 'consultation and dialogue' with China. In 2002, Asean and China signed a declaration on the South China Sea, hailed as a key first step in lowering tensions and creating a framework for future talks. Calling for restraint and preserving freedom of navigation in key shipping lanes, the declaration called for talks to create a legally binding code of conduct. Many analysts see that declaration as effectively a 'dead letter' given worsening tensions and the growing military presence of several players, including China and Vietnam as well as the United States. China last year formalised its historic claim to much of the area, home to the region's most important sea lanes and oil and gas fields. It has also pressured US and other international oil firms to pull out of oil exploration contracts with Vietnam. Vietnam and China claim the Paracel and Spratly archipelagoes in their entirety while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim the Spratlys in part. 'It's going to be an uphill battle for Vietnam,' said one veteran regional diplomat. 'China has very cleverly got every Asean country thinking first of its own relationship with Beijing.' The tensions have been brought into sharp relief just days ahead of the summit. Hanoi announced on Tuesday that it had formally protested to Beijing about the March 22 capture of a Vietnamese fishing boat by Chinese naval patrols near the Paracels. But on Thursday, China announced it had dispatched two Fisheries Administration ships to patrol the Spratlys, known as Nansha in Chinese. The ships are some of the biggest and fastest vessels in the fisheries administration, able to patrol for up to 50 days. While China occupies the entire Paracels, having forced off Vietnamese forces 35 years ago, the Spratlys are dominated by Vietnam, which has built military bases on more than 20 reefs and islets. On Friday, Triet staged a rare visit to a Vietnamese naval base on the disputed island of Bach Long Vi between northern Vietnam and Hainan Island , according to Vietnamese state media. 'We will not let anyone infringe on our territory, our sea and islands,' Triet said. 'We won't make concessions, even an inch of ground, to anyone.'