Beijing, Hanoi pledge better maritime ties

HANOI - China and Vietnam have agreed to take full advantage of hotlines to settle possible maritime crises and fishery emergencies, so as to maintain peace and stability of the South China Sea and their overall bilateral relationship, reported China's official Xinhua news agency yesterday.

According to a joint statement by the two countries, Beijing and Hanoi have undertaken to manage and control their maritime divergences, and refrain from taking actions which would complicate and spread disputes, said Xinhua.

The two sides drew up the agreement on Monday on the second day of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's three-day visit to Vietnam. There was also a specific agreement between the two countries to work together to "fully and effectively implement" the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

Under the "principles and spirit" of the DOC, the two sides would work together to formulate a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), said Xinhua.

China insists that claimants of South China Sea islands must comply with the DOC it signed in 2002 with the 10 Asean countries, before talk could begin on the COC, which would be a compilation of stricter and binding rules for maritime behaviours.

The DOC states, among other things, that claimants should refrain from complicating the situation in the area.

The Philippines, one of the claimants, has been urging that the COC be signed as soon as possible while Vietnam, which claims the Paracel Islands and part of the Spratlys, has had a few maritime clashes with China.

Other parties with territorial claims are Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.