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Vietnam, China agree to maintain dialogue on South China Sea issues

Tensions in the South China Sea remain as Beijing shows coercion in the sea over the past years.

Vietnam and China on Friday [November 29] agreed to maintain dialogue and take steps towards peacefully resolving the South China Sea issues which heated up over the past months after Chinese ships entered Vietnam’s territorial waters.

 Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung (L) and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov 27, 2019.Photo: AP

The two sides reached the consensus during a three-day diplomatic visit to China by Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung, DPA reported.

Trung and Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Le Yucheng held talks in Beijing where they agreed to “resolve conflicts in an appropriate and peaceful manner”, according to a press release by the Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The two sides agreed to maintain mechanisms to discuss sea-related issues and to cooperate with each other in organizing activities to celebrate the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations next year,” said the statement.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea and has built artificial islands with military-capable facilities over reefs and outcrops in a number of Vietnamese islands.

China occupied Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands in 1974 and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in 1988. Over the past years, oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea is a highly fraught issue in both China and Vietnam as Beijing bullies Vietnam’s longstanding oil operations.

In 2014, anti-Chinese sentiment boiled over in Vietnam and sparked deadly attacks against Chinese-owned factories and businesses after a Chinese drilling rig entered the disputed waters.

Most recently, tensions have soared between Beijing and Hanoi as Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 repeatedly violated Vietnam's exclusive economic zone while searching for oil and gas reserves.