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“China, Vietnam should avoid ‘megaphone diplomacy'”
December 27, 2014, 4:54 am

Yu Zhengsheng (L), a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, Dec. 26, 2014 [Xinhua]

Yu Zhengsheng (L), a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, Dec. 26, 2014 [Xinhua]

China and Vietnam have vowed to improve mutual trust and assuage hurt relations during a top Chinese leader’s visit to Hanoi, state-media reports said. The two Communist states are trying to find a solution to a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

China’s top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung agreed to “properly settle the maritime disputes and control their differences through dialogues” said Chinese agency Xinhua.

“The maritime issue is highly complicated and sensitive, which requires negotiations to manage and control differences,” said Zhengsheng, the fourth-ranked member in the elite Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party.

Zhengsheng, who heads an advisory body to China’s parliament, also met Le Hong Anh, a member of the Vietnamese Communist Party’s politburo.

“Megaphone diplomacy can only trigger volatility of public opinion, which should be avoided by both sides,” said the Chinese leader, who is in Hanoi for a three-day official visit.

The Chinese leader was quoting British Foreign Secretary in 1985, Geoffrey Howe who warned, “Megaphone diplomacy leads only to a dialogue of the deaf.”

Vietnam took its dispute with China to the Hague when Hanoi filed a formal submission with an arbitration tribunal challenging a position paper Beijing submitted on December 7. In its paper, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry rejected China’s legal objections to an arbitration case filed by the Philippines.

Zhengsheng’s trip is aimed at resolving one of the worst breakdowns in relations between the two Communist states.

A Chinese oil rig’s deployment set off anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam in May in which at least four people were killed.

China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, although Vietnam and Philippines also lay contesting claims to parts into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

Vietnam in August decided to compensate the victims of the anti-China protests in May.

China has accused Vietnam of ramming its ships more than 1,000 times in a part of the sea recently.

Vietnam says the Chinese platform was in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf. China has said the rig was operating completely within territory occupied by China.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has, however, swelled to $50 billion annually.

Despite the dispute, China remained the biggest trade partner of Vietnam in the first nine months of 2014, accounting for some 19.5 per cent of Vietnam’s total trade turnover.

According to statistics of Vietnam Customs, during the nine-month period, Vietnam sold over $11.094 billion worth of goods to China and spent nearly $31.27 billion for imports from China.

Trade revenue between Vietnam and China in January-September stood at $42.364 billion, said the customs office.

Phones, machinery, steel, fabric and computers were among top import items from China. Bilateral trade between the two countries has swelled to $50 billion annually.

“We are ready to beef up coordination with Vietnam, enhance personnel training and media swaps, to lay solid public opinion foundation for the development of China-Vietnam ties,” the visiting Chinese leader said on Friday.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urged the Chinese side to promote substantial progress in their negotiations regarding the maritime demarcation of the bay mouth of Beibu Gulf.

Yu is visiting Hanoi from Thursday to Saturday at the invitation of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee and the Fatherland Front of Vietnam.

China has earlier cast aspersions on US moves to “provoke” tension by supporting its regional allies, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Earlier in October, Washington partially lifted its arms embargo on Vietnam, a move intended to bolster Hanoi’s confidence in its dealings with China.

Earlier this month, China told the United States to stay out of disputes over the South China Sea and denounced a US State Department report on the disputed waters.


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