Beijing: Amid bitter maritime disputes over the South China Sea, China and Vietnam on Friday agreed to set up a hotline to deal with incidents involving their fishing vessels, which were a frequent source of tension between them.
The agreement was detailed in an eight-clause joint statement released on the final day of Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang`s visit to China during which he held a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China and Vietnam will properly handle emergent fishery incidents so as to maintain bilateral friendly relations, the statement said.
In the recent times, Vietnam had protested highhanded action by Chinese maritime vessels in attempting to drive away the Vietnamese fishing vessels to assert Chinese sovereignty over Paracel or Xisha islands claimed by both the countries.
On maritime issues, China and Vietnam agreed to communicate frequently in order to properly solve maritime disputes, proceeding from the overall interest of bilateral ties, the statement said.
China has been trying to persuade Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, which are in dispute with China over its sovereign claim to the South China Sea (SCS), to settle the problem through separate bilateral talks while they insisted on the role of ASEAN in resolving the issue.
Much to the disquiet of China, the four countries also sought the help of the US to enable them to resolve it.
The joint statement also called for both sides to remain calm and avoid actions that could complicate or escalate a dispute.
They also agreed to make good use of the crisis management hotlines of their foreign affairs ministries and take a constructive attitude to problems, so as to safeguard overall interests of Sino-Vietnamese relations and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.
China and Vietnam pledged to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in order to safeguard peace and stability in the region, Xinhua quoted the the statement as saying.
They said they would maintain military-to-military relations, and make full use of the defence security consultation mechanism and hotline between defence ministries so as to increase mutual trust. According to the statement, both sides will carry out the border cooperation agreement and continue to carry out joint patrols along the land frontier.
It added that the Chinese and Vietnamese navies will carry out two joint patrols of the Beibu Gulf within the year.
On the economic front, both nations will advance cooperation in agriculture, fishery, transportation, energy, mining, manufacturing and other fields, as well as expand trade and promote financial cooperation, the statement said.
It continued that China and Vietnam have agreed to promote the balanced growth of trade and strive to attain the goal of a $60-billion trade volume before 2015.
An editorial in China`s state-run Global Times earlier quoted reports that Xi and his Vietnamese counterpart have reached a consensus in terms of some related issues, proving the possibility of a peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.
The largest obstacle to a peaceful settlement between the two countries is their contradictory perceptions over the sovereignty of the South China Sea.
But as two of the biggest neighbouring socialist countries, China and Vietnam have to meet the same goals of developing the economy through reform and opening up, the editorial said.
Since both countries have a lot in common in terms of political problems and risks, and Vietnam is particularly in need of China`s help in terms of politics, the requirement for strategic cooperation always prevails, it said.