China’s president to visit Vietnam amid South China Sea tension

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 October, 2015, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 October, 2015, 4:47pm

President Xi Jinping will visit Vietnam next week amid heightened tension in the South China Sea that has weighed on ties between the neighbours.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing on Thursday Xi would visit Vietnam on November 5-6.

China’s increasingly assertive pressing of sovereignty claims in regional waters has rattled its neighbours and raised concern in the United States, though China says it has no hostile intent.

Xi will also visit Singapore on November 6-7, Lu added.

The visits come amid a tense period after the US dispatched a warship to within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea in a challenge to its territorial assertions.

China’s deployment of an oil rig last year, in what Vietnam called its exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf, about 120 nautical miles off its coast, led to their worst breakdown in relations since a brief border war in 1979.

China claims most of the South China Sea through which US$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also claim parts of it.