In a series of high-level talks between China and Vietnam, both socialist countries sent clear signals on jointly stabilizing the South China Sea situation, exchanging political support and advancing collaboration in economic recovery.
In particular, properly handling maritime issues and carrying forward the consultations on the expected text of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea were among the new consensuses made during State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to the southeast Asian country over the weekend.
Behind these positive gestures are Beijing and Hanoi's mutual trust and willingness to control maritime differences despite Washington's recent attempts to use the topic to alienate them, experts said.
Wang had a packed schedule during his stay in Hanoi from Friday to Sunday, meeting with prominent figures including Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee.
Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said Hanoi's great hospitality and the high level of meetings arranged for Wang "reflect Vietnam's great emphasis on ties with China and the positive atmosphere between the two countries".
During meetings on Saturday, Wang said the two sides should cherish the hard-won stable situation in the South China Sea, "find a proper place in the overall bilateral ties for maritime issues", and refrain from worsening the situation.
Also, the two countries should "jointly guard against attempts made by external forces for alienating" them, and they should convince the world that the two nations have both the capability and wisdom to manage their divergence, Wang added.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh told Wang that his country is ready to keep the maritime situation stable, embark on maritime cooperation with an incremental approach and contribute to ensuring the region's peace.
In Wang's separate talk with Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, both sides highlighted the need to carry forward the consultation on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea together with the nine other members besides Vietnam of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Beijing looks forward to formulating "a valid, substantive agreement that aligns with international law", Wang said.
The Vietnamese minister echoed the call for promoting the consultation, and said both sides should continue advancing their cooperation in the Beibu Gulf and in areas of low sensitivity.
Su, the CIIS scholar, noted that this year, senior US political figures including Vice-President Kamala Harris have visited Vietnam in an attempt to weaken Beijing-Hanoi ties by hyping maritime tension.
"But the latest messages issued over the weekend show that China still enjoys adequate trust from its neighbors and positivity prevails in their interactions, and their differences are under control," Su added.
During the weekend meetings, the two sides reaffirmed political support for each other's following the socialist path, and Wang relayed Beijing's strong support to Vietnam's new leadership that took office this year.
For his part, the Vietnamese foreign minister said Hanoi will continue its clear support for China in topics such as democracy, human rights, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan and novel coronavirus origin tracing.
The two countries should join hands to push back at smearing and attacks made by external forces against socialist countries, champion their common interest, further honor the noninterference principle and support the international system and international order, Wang said.
Yang Baoyun, a professor specializing in ASEAN studies at Thailand's Thammasat University, said, "The positive signals issued during Wang's visit show that Beijing is a reliable neighbor for Hanoi given the ravaging pandemic, and that both countries need each other politically, economically and internationally."
As China and ASEAN became each other's top trade partner last year, the steadfast growth of trade between China and ASEAN countries including Vietnam "helps keep production chains there afloat and cushion the blow from the pandemic", Yang said.
Speaking on the lasting impact made by the pandemic, Wang said Beijing is willing to offer support with vaccines, share experiences in COVID-19 response and therapeutics and help Vietnam promote economic recovery.
To keep bilateral economic and trade exchanges afloat, Beijing is ready to advance the construction of cross-border economic cooperation areas, and help Vietnam speed up its industrialization process, he added.
The Vietnamese prime minister said Hanoi is ready to learn from China's experience in COVID-19 response, shore up teamwork in trade and investment and facilitate China's investment in Vietnam.
Published : September 13, 2021