China-Vietnam ties greatly improved with expanded border meeting

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/25 23:28:39

Highest Chinese official attends high-level border meeting


Military delegations from China and Vietnam attended the broader fourth high-level border meeting, a sign of a much-improved bilateral relationship, experts said.

The Chinese delegation, led by vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Fan Changlong, and the Vietnamese counterpart, led by Defense Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich, participated in the meeting, which was held in Lai Chau, Vietnam and Southwest China's Yunnan Province, over the weekend, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The two officials watched joint anti-terrorism drills and border patrols of the countries.

"The Chinese military is willing to work with its Vietnamese counterpart to manage differences and inject positive energy into bilateral relations," Fan said.

This is the first time that China has sent a CMC vice chairman to the meeting since it began in 2014, and it shows China's sincerity in pushing the bilateral relationship to a new level, as cooperation with Vietnam helps China maintain border stability, Gu Xiaosong, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

During the meeting, Ngo also pledged to maintain border stability and contribute to military ties.

The meeting was scheduled for June when Fan visited Vietnam, but was canceled after Fan suddenly shortened his visit.

The Chinese side canceled the border meeting over working arrangements, a Chinese defense ministry official previously told the Global Times.

Despite the positive trend, the South China Sea issue continues to challenge bilateral ties, Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times.

China and most Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members arrived at a consensus and committed to easing disputes in the South China Sea in August. However, Vietnam tried to force its agenda by inserting "construction on islands and reefs" into the draft communiqué, Xinhua quoted a source close to the meeting as saying.

Vietnam's stance on the South China Sea issue remains firm, and US intervention could complicate the issue, Chen said.

In August, Reuters quoted US officials as saying that the USS John S. McCain sailed close to Meiji Reef in the Nansha Islands, the third "freedom of navigation operation" conducted since President Donald Trump took office.

By continuing to meddle in the South China Sea, the US wants to draw Vietnam to its side after China and the Philippines made progress on their maritime disputes, according to Chen.

"Despite the friction, relations between China and Vietnam are enjoying positive momentum with frequent high-level meetings," Chen said, adding that both countries should expand people-to-people exchanges and take measures to resolve their differences.


Newspaper headline: China-Vietnam ties make gains



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