Handle SCS disputes for better ties: China to Vietnam

Handle SCS disputes for better ties: China to Vietnam Beijing: Amid a dispute with Vietnam over the sovereignty of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, China on Friday underlined the need to properly handle contentious issues to improve the bilateral ties during a key visit here by a top Vietnamese commander.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed President Hu Jintao next year, today met visiting Vietnamese army chief Do Ba Ty and stressed that the two countries were bounded by socialist systems, similar ideals and connected destinies.

"In the face of a complex and ever-changing international situation, the two sides should join forces and work to retain the correct direction in expanding bilateral relations, actively bring benefits to the two peoples, and maintain peace, stability and development in the region and the world," said Xi, who undertaken a fence mending visit to Hanoi in December last year.

Vietnam claims sovereignty over the Xisha Islands. China recently conducted a trial run of its cruise ship to the disputed Xisha Islands, a move that has raised tension between the two nations.

The Chinese Vice President said both the countries had successfully conducted demarcation of land borders and maritime borders in the Beibu Gulf, even though differences remain on islands in the South China Sea.

Xi said the China-Vietnam friendship was created and fostered by older generations of leaders from both countries. Ty, who is heading a top military delegation, said the Vietnam was ready to work with China to firmly safeguard the bilateral friendship, properly handle disputes and make joint efforts to promote peace, stability and development.

He is also scheduled to hold talks with Chen Bingde, chief of the general staffs of the People's Liberation Army of China.

Located south of China's coast, SCS is connected with narrow straits with Pacific Ocean. China claims sovereignty over the entire SCS, even waters close to the coast of other countries and hundreds of kilometres from its own landmass. The Chinese claim, however, has been contested by Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan which assert it is part their maritime waters.

China has asked several countries, including India and Russia, not to undertake oil exploration in the blocs claimed by Vietnam, a move resented by Hanoi.