World News

China, Vietnam reach consensus on appropriately handling contested South China Sea

China, Vietnam reach consensus on appropriately handling contested South China Sea

Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the inauguration and handover ceremony of Vietnam-China Friendship Palace here on Sunday.

Ties between China and Vietnam have cooled recently over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, and Xi's visit is seen as an effort to improve relations.

Addressing the event, CPV chief Nguyen Phu Trong said that the reinforcement and promotion of the friendly neighbourliness and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and China is suitable to the fundamental and long-term interest of people of both sides, for peace, stability and development of the region and the world. It was Xi's first overseas trip since consolidating his power at a party congress last month.

Xi's arrival came not long after US President Donald Trump and his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang discussed the South China Sea, and Trump offered to help mediate.

Xi and Trump both held bilateral meetings with Vietnamese officials, in the wake of a summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in the Vietnamese city of Danang.

Trump and President Quang issued a joint statement underscoring the importance of free and open access to South China Sea, and saying parties should halt escalatory action.

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China in recent years has built artificial islands and increased its militarisation in the waters, drawing criticism from Washington, which argues that the United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation in sea lanes critical for world trade.

"China is one of the countries which is most willing to promote trade liberalization", Tran Viet Thai of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam said.

Ahead of his visit to Vietnam, Xi said that there was a bond "forged with blood" between the two countries. "Hopefully the relations will continue to stabilise, because the two sides now share great interests in broadening their cooperation and maintaining stability".

The palace, occupying an area of 13,800 square meters, is a signature China-sponsored project in Vietnam.

Tensions between the two communist neighbours have flared again in recent months over the disputed waters. In September, Vietnam protested against live-fire drills by China near the Paracel Islands.


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