HANOI / SHANGHAI, Sept.11 (Reuters) – China and Vietnam should refrain from any unilateral action regarding the South China Sea that could complicate the situation and amplify disputes, senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi told an official Vietnamese, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
State Councilor Wang met with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh during a visit to Vietnam, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
Wang’s visit to Vietnam, as part of his week-long tour of Southeast Asia, came about two weeks after US Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to the region.
The Vietnamese prime minister said in a meeting with the Chinese ambassador hours before Harris’ visit that Vietnam was not lining up one country against another. Read more
China claims to have historic sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, but its neighbors and the United States say this claim has no basis in international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the 1982 Sea (UNCLOS), to which China is a signatory.
Beijing’s claim straddles Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ, as well as those of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan. Billions of dollars in trade flows annually through the waterway, which also contains rich fishing grounds and gas fields.
Wang said the two countries should cherish the hard-won peace and stability in the South China Sea and be vigilant to resist the intervention of extraterritorial forces, the Chinese ministry’s statement said.
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said in a government statement that it is important that the two countries respect each other’s legitimate rights and interests, in accordance with international law and UNCLOS.
The two sides agreed to continue to adhere strictly to high-level common perceptions, manage disagreements, avoid complicating situations or expanding disputes, and jointly maintain peace and stability in the contested waters, a added the Vietnamese government statement.
Vietnam has said China will donate an additional 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam this year, bringing China’s total vaccine donation to the country to 5.7 million doses.
Along with Wang’s visit, the Vietnamese defense minister met his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi on Saturday on Kishi’s first trip abroad after taking office last year, Kyodo news agency reported.
Japan and Vietnam have signed an agreement allowing the export of defense equipment and technology made in Japan to the Southeast Asian country to “stimulate cooperation in a context of growing assertiveness of China in regional waters, ”Kyodo said.
The deal was struck last year during Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s visit to Vietnam.
“Japan will speed up talks with Vietnam to sell the Self-Defense Force ships,” Kishi said, quoting Kishi.
The two ministers also agreed on the importance of maintaining peace, security, freedom of navigation and overflight, Kyodo reported.
Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by William Mallard and Alex Richardson
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