|Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (3rd L) holds a meeting with Vietnamese Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (2nd R) in Vietnam's capital Hanoi on June 18, 2014. (Xinhua/Zhang Jianhua)|
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi held a meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in the Vietnamee capital of Hanoi on June 18, 2014. The two countries pledged to rein in maritime tensions during the highest-level direct contact since relations deteriorated in May over a Chinese oil rig operating in the South China Sea.
Yang stressed that the Xisha Islands are an inherent part of Chinese territory, adding that Beijing will "take any necessary measures" to protect its sovereignty and maritime interests.
The rig's operational area was 31 km from the baseline of the Xisha Islands' territorial waters and between 246 km and 289 km from the Vietnamese coast. In the past month, Vietnamese vessels have rammed Chinese ships safeguarding them on more than 1,500 occasions.
Yang urged Vietnam to stop harassing Chinese ships and to ensure the security of Chinese citizens in their country, saying the country should treat seriously the aftermath of the violence, vandalism and arson tht took place in mid-May, referring to riots in Vietnam targeting Chinese-owned businesses.
Yang expressed the hope that Vietnam, together with China, would overcome difficulties and move China-Vietnam relations forward on the right track.
During the meeting, Minh explained Vietnam's stance on the sea dispute, saying Vietnam will comply with the consensus reached by leaders of the two sides on properly handling sensitive issues in bilateral relations.
Vietnam is willing to work with China on maritime issues, maintain close communication, manage tensions, and handle issues properly, as well as confirming to the international community that Vietnam and China are able to resolve their differences by peaceful means, he said.
Sun Xiaoying, research fellow of Guangxi Academy of Social Science, told the Global Times on June 17 that she was not optimistic about the prospects of progress from the meeting between Yang and the Vietnamese side, as the Vietnamese government tends to resort to sophistry. On the subject of oil rig 981, Sun Xiaoying said that Vietnam had made many deep water drillings in disputed areas of South China Sea. It is not acceptable to China that it should be prevented from building one single oil rig in the area. Governments of the two countries can jointly develop some sea areas. For example, China National Offshore Oil Corporation marked out 9 zones for that purpose in 2012. China has showed its sincerity, and it is time for Vietnam to consider the situation.
On June 19, 2014, an article in People's Daily Overseas Edition emphasized that China is well-intentioned, and that Vietnam should return to the right track. It remains to be seen whether Vietnam will meet with China halfway. Just before Yang's visit, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called for less dependence on the Chinese economy. Vietnam has used cooperation with foreign companies in oil and gas exploration to solidify its maritime interests, and it is eager to apply for international arbitration.
Though the difficulties in the China-Vietnam relationship were caused unilaterally by Vietnam, the Chinese State Councilor still came to Vietnam for the meeting, which confirms that China cherishes the friendship between the two peoples and is willing to solve the problem through dialogue. China has extended an olive branch to Vietnam, and Vietnam should seize the opportunity and make the right response.