Xi Jinping calls on China, Vietnam to work together to settle South China Sea disputes

Parties must ‘stay committed to seeking a fundamental and durable solution’ to their claims, Chinese president says ahead of Apec summit in Vietnam

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 10:25am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 9:45pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping has invoked late Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh ahead of a state visit to Vietnam, underscoring long-standing ties between Beijing and Hanoi as tensions rise over the South China Sea.

Xi called on the two nations to work closely to resolve their maritime disputes, before landing in Da Nang for this weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit at which Xi and US President Donald Trump are expected to vie for regional influence.

Xi and Trump will also visit Hanoi after the summit.

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In an article published in Nhan Dan, the official newspaper of the Vietnamese Communist Party, on Thursday, Xi said China and Vietnam were close neighbours, and the people of the two nations “fought shoulder to shoulder” in the struggle for independence.

He said Ho “was like a brother” to China’s past leaders, including late chairman Mao Zedong and premier Zhou Enlai.

Vietnam has been at odds with China over their competing claims in the South China Sea. In July, under pressure from Beijing, Vietnam suspended drilling for oil in the contested waters. The next month, Vietnam voiced opposition to Chinese military drills near the disputed Paracel Islands.

Meanwhile Vietnam has strengthened military ties with the United States.

Last year Washington lifted a decades-long ban on the sale of military equipment to Hanoi, and in August this year Vietnam won US assurances of a strong defence relationship based on common interests, including freedom of navigation in the waterway.

In his article, Xi said Vietnam and China “need to well manage our differences and disagreements”.

The parties must “stay committed to seeking a fundamental and durable solution to the maritime issues acceptable to both sides through friendly consultation,” he said.

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China often refers to Vietnam as its “friend” and “comrade”, a legacy of their shared communist political systems.

Ahead of Apec, a group of Chinese delegates signed 83 trade deals with Vietnam worth a combined US$1.94 billion, according to state-run Xinhua.

After Vietnam, Xi will make a state visit to Laos, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.