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Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 08:13
Li urges stronger S. China Sea ties
By Li Xiaokun and Mo Jingxi

Premier says cooperation  with Vietnam will help maintain peace, stability

Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday he wants cooperation with Vietnam in the South China Sea to expand to “a larger scale of joint development”, during his meeting with a visiting Vietnamese senior official.

Nguyen Thien Nhan, president of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee, vowed to seek more tangible achievements in maritime, infrastructure and financial cooperation with China.

During Li’s visit to Hanoi in October, the two nations established three working groups to discuss maritime, infrastructure and financial cooperation. Chinese analysts said the agreement was a “breakthrough” for both countries in how they would jointly handle territorial disputes and implement cooperation.

Li said at the meeting with Nhan that the two nations should properly handle differences through negotiations to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, according to an official statement.

Qi Jianguo, former Chinese ambassador to Vietnam, said pushing for maritime, land and financial cooperation is among Nhan’s priorities during his visit.

“Smooth development of bilateral relations carries great significance,” Li said on Monday.

The premier said Beijing is willing to work with Vietnam to advance relations. He also noted “positive progress” in bilateral relations and applauded the frequency of high-level exchanges between the two nations.

Li’s visit to Vietnam in October followed visits to China by Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung earlier in 2013.

Last month, President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation during a phone conversation with Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

China’s top political adviser Yu Zhengsheng told Nhan when they met on Sunday that Xi’s phone conversation has shaped the development of China-Vietnam ties.

For Nhan, this is his second visit to China in three months. He visited Nanning, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in late November to attend the second China-Vietnam Youth Gala, where he met Vice-President Li Yuanchao.

As a child, the Vietnamese leader attended school in the region, where he learned Chinese.

Xu Liping, a Southeast Asian studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said despite overlapping claims in the South China Sea, China’s relations with Vietnam are still positive. Frequent high-level exchanges can serve as a useful way to help the two persevere in regional tests, he said.

“Now China and Vietnam are trying to solve territorial disputes in the South China Sea and dissipate their misunderstandings through maritime cooperation. They have signed many agreements. It’s a good sign,” Xu said.

Still, Xu warned that both countries must watch out for external forces that can sabotage their relations.

The Vietnam Fatherland Front, formerly known as the Vietnam National United Front, was established in 1930 to strengthen Vietnam’s national solidarity.

Contact the writer at lixiaokun@chinadaily.com.cn

 
 
 
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