Beijing has called for Sino-Vietnamese links to proceed along a "correct path", sending a senior politician to Hanoi amid ongoing tension between the two nations over the South China Sea. Yu Zhengsheng , chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, is the highest ranking Chinese leader to visit Vietnam since ties between the two countries nosedived with Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in the contested waters in May. Yu is No 4 in the Communist Party's hierarchy. In a meeting with Le Hong Anh, a member of the Vietnamese Communist Party's Politburo, Yu said China was willing to improve strategic and long-term ties with Vietnam. "My visit to Vietnam, at the behest of [President] Xi Jinping , is to improve mutual trust, build consensus and boost progress of China-Vietnam relations in a correct path," Yu was quoted by Xinhua as saying. Deadly anti-Chinese protests erupted in Vietnam in May after a deepwater oil rig owned by China National Offshore Oil Corporation was parked in disputed South China Sea waters, setting off a war of words between the two nations. Tensions eased after the oil rig was withdrawn in July, one month ahead of schedule. But the two nations locked horns again this month after Hanoi made a submission to The Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration on a case brought by the Philippines against China over territorial claims in the waters. Beijing dismissed Hanoi's action, calling on Vietnam to respect China's territorial sovereignty and maintain stability in the South China Sea. Du Jifeng , a research fellow at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing did not want Vietnam to take further action in the international tribunal, fearing it would embarrass Beijing. China was also concerned about closer links between Hanoi, the Philippines, the US and Japan. "But Vietnam is likely to continue with the legal moves, and stay close to other nations. It won't give up just because China says so," Du said. Anh, who visited Beijing in August, told Yu that Vietnam hoped to improve high-level contacts with China and called on both sides to implement the consensus on maritime issues reached between their senior leaders, Xinhua reported.