China and Vietnam are good socialist neighbors with a long-shared history of revolutionary friendship and should be able to dispel and survive any “disruptions” in their relations, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Vietnam’s parliament on Friday.
The two communist-led states both have competing claims in the South China Sea, which came to a head last year when Beijing parked an oil rig in waters off the Vietnamese coast, leading to anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam.
Xi’s visit is timely, aimed at rebuilding relations amid some uncertainty over what kind of leader will emerge from January’s five-yearly congress of a party traditionally close to Beijing, but now receiving unprecedented Western attention, Reuters said.
Chinese state televison reported that Beijing and Hanoi have agreed to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and not take any acts that “complicate” the issue.
Meanwhile, Vietnam agreed to invite a Japanese warship to visit its strategic Cam Ranh Bay base on the South China Sea and for the two countries to hold their first ever joint naval exercise, Reuters said, citing a Kyodo News report.
The agreement was reached during a meeting in Hanoi between Japanese defense minister Gen Nakatani and his Vietnamese counterpart, Phung Quang Thanh, the report said.
Speaking at the National Assembly in Hanoi, Xi referred to Vietnam’s independence hero Ho Chi Minh and his amity with the founder of modern China, Mao Zedong, and their similar political systems.
“China and Vietnam are joined my mountains and water and the friendship between our two peoples goes back to ancient times,” Xi said.
“In the struggle for national independence and liberation we fought side by side and supported each other forming a tight friendship.”
China pays great attention to its relations with Vietnam and wants them to continue on a stable path, Xi added.
“Our two parties, countries and peoples should be staunch in their faith, help each other and proceed hand in hand, not allowing anyone to disrupt our pace,” he said.
“I believe … both nations’ peoples have the ability and the wisdom to dispel any disruptions.”
Xi made no direct mention of the South China Sea, nor indeed the brief border war the two fought in 1979, when China invaded Vietnam to punish Hanoi for toppling the Beijing-backed Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
Vietnam has been diversifying its ties and although China is not among its top investors, it is its largest trading partner at US$60 billion a year and biggest source of its imports.
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