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China, Vietnam to ‘properly manage’ differences in sea row

China and Vietnam have agreed to “properly manage” their differences over territorial disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) and “safeguard stability”, after an international tribunal rejected Chinese claims over the region on a petition brought before it by the Phillipines. 

The decision came after talks between Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang here. Phuc’s visit to China is the first by a top Vietnamese leader, after the tribunal’s verdict on July 12. 

China had rejected the verdict by The Hague-based tribunal, which has said that “although Chinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other states, had historically made use of the islands in the SCS, there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources.” 

China is now persuading other claimants – Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei – to settle the disputes bilaterally, without approaching for international arbitration. State-run Xinhua reported that China and Vietnam have agreed “to properly manage maritime differences and further enhance bilateral substantial cooperation” after Phuc-Li talks on Monday night. Li and Phuc witnessed the signing of agreements on economy and trade, production capacity, infrastructure and education, the report said, without giving details.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the two leaders had a “good” conversation and the new government of Vietnam shows “positive willingness” to further develop relations with China.
Li told Phuc that the SCS issue was related to territorial sovereignty, maritime interests as well as national sentiment. “China and Vietnam need to work together to abide by agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries, safeguard stability in the South China Sea, and build consensus to advance bilateral ties and safeguard maritime and regional peace,” Li said.

Phuc said Vietnam would like to properly resolve maritime issues with China in the spirit of equality and mutual respect and in a peaceful way, the report said. 
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