Vietnam, China agree on ground rules to resolve sea issues

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Vietnam and China Tuesday signed an agreement setting out a basic legal framework for negotiating and solving sea disputes between the two countries, Vietnam News Agency reported.

The two countries also signed cooperation agreements in five other areas including education, trade and road transportation, marking the first day of a five-day official visit to China by Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

The signing ceremony for the agreements was held at the Great Hall of the People in the presence of Trong and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao as well as high ranking officials from both countries.

Under the agreement relating to sea issues, Vietnam and China will follow the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2002 Conduct of Parties in the East Sea while solving disputes through negotiations, VNA reported.

The two countries will also improve their negotiation process regarding sea territory outside the entrance of the Bac Bo (Tonkin) Gulf. Government hotlines will be set up and periodical meetings will be held to solve any issues, the news report said.

At a meeting held before the signing ceremony Trong and Hu agreed that there are still some disagreements about the East Sea in the Vietnam-China relationship.

The countries would strive to avoid complicating the situation and remain calm in solving disputes through peaceful negotiations, and for the sake of their strategic relationship as well as the benefit of both peoples, the leaders agreed.

They noted that the East Sea issue, while only a part of the larger relationship between the two countries, is a very sensitive and complicated one as it relates to national sovereignty, the VNA report said.

However, it is an issue that can be "totally solved," they stressed.

The leaders also agreed that the two countries will step up cooperation in national defense and security.


The delegation of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the delegation of the Government of the People's Republic of China agree that the satisfactory settlement of sea-related issues between Vietnam and China is suitable for the basic interests and common aspirations of the two countries' people and helpful for regional peace, stability, co-operation and development. The two sides agree, on the basis of common perceptions of the Vietnamese and Chinese leaders reached on sea-related issues and "The 1993 Agreement on Basic Principles for the Settlement of Border Territory Issues between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the People's Republic of China", to solve sea-related issues pursuant to the following principles:

1. Taking the general situation of the two countries' relationship as the key, originating from a strategic and overall attitude under the guidance of the motto, "Friendly neighborliness, comprehensive co-operation, long-term stability and looking towards the future" and the spirit of "Good neighbors, good friends, good comrades and good partners", and persistently pursuing friendly talks and negotiations to properly settle sea-related issues, thus making the East Sea a territory of peace, friendship and co-operation and contributing to the development of the Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, as well as to regional peace and stability.

2. In the spirit of fully respecting legal evidence regarding other relevant factors such as history, and at the same time taking into account each other's reasonable concerns with a constructive attitude and an attempt to expand common perceptions, narrow differences and continuously accelerate negotiations. Based on a legal regime and principles defined by international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, making efforts to seek basic and long-term solutions acceptable to both sides for sea-related disputes.

3. In negotiations on sea-related issues, the two sides seriously abide by agreements and common perceptions reached by their high-ranking leaders and seriously implement the principles and spirit of the "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea" (DOC).

For sea-related disputes between Vietnam and China , the two sides shall solve them through friendly talks and negotiations. Disputes relating to other countries shall be settled through negotiations with other concerned parties.

4. In the process of seeking basic and long-term solutions for sea-related issues, in the spirit of mutual respect, equal and mutually beneficial treatment, the two sides actively discuss transitional and temporary measures that do not affect the stances and policies of the two sides, including studies and discussions on cooperation for mutual development based on principles described in Article 2 of this Agreement.

5. Addressing sea-related issues in succession and progress with easy issues first and difficult issues later. Firmly speeding up the demarcation of territorial waters off the Tonkin Gulf and actively discussing co-operation for mutual development on these waters. Actively boosting co-operation in less sensitive fields, such as sea-related environment protection, sea-related science research, search and rescue at sea, and prevention and minimization of damage caused by natural disasters. Attempting to enhance mutual trust to facilitate the settlement of more difficult issues.

6. The two sides in turn conduct periodical meetings between heads of government-level border negotiation delegations twice a year and extraordinary meetings if necessary. The two sides agree to set up a hotline mechanism between the government-level delegations to exchange and properly deal with sea-related issues in a timely manner.

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