Vietnam's deputy defense minister said the country's military forces and their Chinese counterparts have agreed to never use military measures against civil operations at sea.
"Under whatever situations, Vietnam and China will not use military forces to suppress, prevent or threaten peaceful activities like scientific research, resource excavations or marine travel," the deputy minister, general Nguyen Chi Vinh told Quan Doi Nhan Dan (People's Army) newspaper.
He said he had discussed the matter with Chinese Senior Lieutenant-general Ma Xiaotian, the deputy head of the People's Liberation Army General Staff Department, at the countries' third defense dialogue in Hanoi on September 3.
It was the first time the dialogue included talks about the countries' behaviors in the East Sea. The two leaders discussed the issue carefully without avoiding any related topics, Vinh said.
At the dialogue he once again mentioned Vietnam's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the East Sea.
"It was different from China's point of view, but we both agreed that the final decision should suit current international laws," Vinh said.
He said the two sides agreed to "strictly" comply with such regulations as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 and the Declaration On The Conduct Of Parties in the East Sea 2002.
Vietnam, as well as other ASEAN members, and China are still working to develop the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to settle any disputes in a constructive and transparent manner, as suggested by a group of US senators in July.
The oil-rich waters of the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea, have been fought over between many countries including the Philippines and Malaysia.
Vinh said Vietnam will protect its sovereignty over the islands until the very end, and it will do so peacefully.
"People will ask if it is possible? I think it's totally possible.
"We can rely on international laws and develop stronger friendships with countries involved," Vinh said.
He said peace is a global trend and anyone against it will receive opposition from most of the world.
"Every country needs a peaceful and stable environment to grow.
"Any unjust action by any country that disregards international law and human trends will not receive any support from the global community or its own people," he said, noting that it will also create an international wave of opposition and "unimaginable disorder."
He said the first thing to do, if a country wants to protect its sovereignty, is to maintain political stability.
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