Vietnam, China agree to avoid armed conflicts in East Sea

The senior military officials of Vietnam and China have agreed to avoid armed conflicts in the East Sea

Vietnamese Minister of Defense General Phung Quang Thanh talks with reporters in Hanoi on October 20, 2014.

Visiting Vietnamese Defense Minister General Phung Quang Thanh and his Chinese hosts including his counterpart Chang Wanquan agreed to prevent armed conflicts from occurring between the two countries in the East Sea.

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The agreement was reached during the talks between the two sides in Beijing during the Vietnamese official’s four-day visit that wrapped up on Sunday, General Thanh told reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing eighth session of the 13th National Assembly in Hanoi on Monday.

The visit included discussions intended to boost cooperation between the two armies, states and peoples, Minister Thanh said.

The two sides agreed that any disputes should be settled through peaceful measures in line with international law and that the two armies must control the situation at sea, avoid the use force or the threat of force, and try their best to prevent armed conflict from occurring in the East Sea, he said.

“The two sides have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a direct regular line between the ministers of defense of Vietnam and China so that they can communicate to resolve any problems at sea, if any, in time,” General Thanh said.

The official also said he and his host agreed that the border line between the two countries must be well-defined in order to create a peaceful, friendly and cooperative border line, through which people from both countries can travel for business purposes and other legal activities.

“I have suggested that China remove its recent warning that Chinese citizens avoid traveling to Vietnam. The removal is necessary to promote travel between both countries, helping to strengthen the friendship and trust between the two sides,” he said.

Regarding China’s construction work on Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, General Thanh said he had told his host that it is necessary to keep the status quo in the East Sea intact, and not to expand the scope of disputes.

The Chinese side has recorded this suggestion by Vietnam, he added.

When asked whether the Chinese side brought forward any commitment about keeping the status quo in the East Sea intact, General Thanh said, “My host had not made a promise but the two sides agreed to implement the Declaration on the Conducts of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).”

The most important agreements reached during the talks are that the two sides will cooperate in the spirit of friendship set by the leaders of the two countries’ Parties and States, maintain peace and stability in the East Sea, control activities of both countries’ armed forces, not use force or threaten to use force, and prevent armed conflicts in the area, General Thanh said.

According to the Vietnam News Agency, General Thanh also told his host that Vietnam treasures friendship and comprehensive cooperation with China, and expressed his hope that the two sides will work together to reinforce bilateral ties for the interests of the two parties, states and peoples.

Regarding sovereignty disputes at sea, Minister Thanh reiterated Vietnam’s consistent policy of addressing the issues by peaceful means in line with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the DOC.

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