China and Vietnam are speeding up their maritime cooperation despite some setbacks, and this will help enhance mutual trust for resolving disputes, experts said.
Chinese and Vietnamese government delegations, led by Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung, met on Dec 12 in Beijing for border and maritime boundary negotiations.
During their talks, the two sides agreed to implement cooperative projects on fisheries and on oil and gas exploration in Beibu Bay and to continue conducting joint patrols by the two navies and coast guards, in order to maintain the peace and stability of the sea area.
They also reaffirmed that they will continue to implement the consensus reached by the two countries－that maritime disputes should be resolved through negotiations and peaceful consultations－and steadily push forward border and maritime boundary negotiations.
The two countries started their first round of border negotiations in 1993, and more than a dozen rounds of negotiations have been held. In 2000, China demarcated its boundary with Vietnam in Beibu Bay.
Pan Jin’e, an expert on Vietnamese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the meeting reflects the two countries’ latest effort to push forward their maritime cooperation despite differences.
According to Pan, the two countries may boost cooperation on fisheries, joint development and patrols next year.
Nie Huihui, an expert on Vietnamese studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said such cooperation will increase mutual trust, laying a foundation for resolving disputes.
“However, Vietnam should exercise restraint and avoid activities that may harm bilateral ties,” she said.