Beijing, Hanoi able to solve sea dispute: FM

By Wang Zhaokun Source:Global Times Published: 2013-10-15 0:58:01

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L, front) meets with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang in Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 14, 2013. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday that the decision to establish a maritime cooperation work group between China and Vietnam demonstrates the two countries' ability to solve the disputes in the South China Sea, which is the only problem left affecting the bilateral relationship.

The move shows to the world that China and Vietnam have the ability and wisdom to expand shared interests and narrow their differences, said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

China hopes to work with Vietnam to promote long-term sustainable development of the China-Vietnam strategic partnership, she said.

The agreement to establish the group was made between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, during Li's visit to Vietnam on Sunday.

Analysts said China and Vietnam actually have a good foundation in their relations, although there are also complexities in developing the bilateral relationship.

Vietnam might hold expectations on improving relations with countries including the US and Japan, Bi Shihong, a professor with the School of International Studies at Yunnan University, told the Global Times, noting that Hanoi has joined the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations that exclude China.

"But when it comes to issues related to national sovereignty and political systems, Vietnam's position would be reserved and not to make any concessions," he said.

Du Jifeng, a research fellow at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that China-Vietnam relations are sometimes complicated due to historical and practical factors.

In practical terms, Hanoi needs to position its relationship with Beijing in a clear and objective way with China's rapid rise in recent years, especially as their bilateral relations were sometimes rocked by disputes in the South China Sea, said Du.

"Political mistrust could impact cooperation in other areas such as the economy," Du added.

Vietnam is a socialist nation, which makes it special among the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, Su Hao, director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times Monday.

"When ASEAN was established in the first place, Vietnam was seen as its rival. And after Vietnam joined the bloc, the country saw itself as a representative of ASEAN in the new area and wanted to play a core role in the group and influence ASEAN's future development," he said.

Su said if major countries in the region could develop good relations with Vietnam, this would help them coordinate cooperation programs with ASEAN. 

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