Vietnam, China hold joint naval patrol amid spat

Vietnam and China have concluded two days of joint naval patrols, including a port call in China.

Updated: Jun 21, 2011, 23:00 PM IST

Hanoi: Vietnam and China have
concluded two days of joint naval patrols, including a port
call in China, despite a heated spat over disputed territory
in the South China Sea, state media said today.

Two boats from each country participated in the
patrols Sunday and yesterday, sailing more than 300 nautical
miles in the Gulf of Tonkin bordering Vietnam and China,
Vietnam`s People`s Army Newspaper said. A demarcation treaty
for the area was signed in 2000.

"Respecting the signed agreements is one of the
factors that will promote the friendly and neighbourly
relations between two countries and ensure sustainable
stability and security at sea," it quoted Col. Nguyen Van
Kiem, deputy chief of staff of Vietnam`s navy, as saying.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not
comment on the joint patrol at a regular news conference

He reiterated Beijing`s sovereignty over the South
China Sea, but said it would work toward a peaceful resolution
to the territorial dispute.

The joint patrol was the 11th since 2005 between the
neighbouring Communist countries, but it was unclear how long
it had been planned or whether it signalled any cooling of

Relations between the two have plummeted in recent
weeks as they have traded diplomatic punches over run-ins
involving territory in the South China Sea claimed by both.

Last week, Vietnam held live-fire naval drills off its
central coast and issued an order outlining who would be
exempt from a military draft during wartime.

China announced a few days later that it also recently
held similar manoeuvres in the South China Sea without
providing exact dates.

Today, a newspaper published by China`s ruling
Communist Party ran a scathing editorial, warning Vietnam to
back off.

"If Vietnam wishes to create a war in the South China
Sea, China will resolutely keep them company," the Global
Times said. "China has the absolute might to crush the naval
fleets sent from Vietnam. China will show no mercy to its
rival due to `global impact` concerns."

China has been upset with Vietnam`s welcoming of US
involvement in helping resolve disputes in the South China Sea
that Beijing believes should be settled bilaterally.