Vietnam said Monday it has agreed with China to restore bilateral relations and better manage tense disputes over the South China Sea.
“The two sides agree that a healthy and stable friendly Vietnam-China relationship is in the interest of the two peoples and will benefit regional peace, stability and development,” the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said in a statement, following a meeting between Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi in Hanoi earlier Monday.
Tensions rose to their highest level in years in May when China deployed an oil rig near the contested Paracel Islands, triggering dangerous boat ramming at sea and deadly anti-Chinese riots at industrial parks in Vietnam. China removed the rig from the contested area in July.
Mr. Yang said with their joint efforts, Vietnam and China have overcome “recent difficulties” and “bilateral relations are being restored gradually,” according to the statement. He said the two countries need to better manage maritime disputes to create a favorable environment for bilateral cooperation.
Mr. Minh said Vietnam always wishes to develop a comprehensive strategic relationship with China, adding that his country will prioritize peaceful measures to address disputes in the South China Sea.
Mr. Yang’s visit to Hanoi is the latest effort to mend ties between the two communist countries since May, following visits to China by Vietnam’s Politburo member Le Hong Anh and Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh and Mr. Yang’s previous visit in Hanoi in June.
During a China visit by Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh more than a week ago, Vietnam and China reached an agreement to set up an emergency hotline between their defense ministries to help resolve disputes.
The Foreign Ministry’s Monday statement also said that Vietnam and China have agreed to facilitate bilateral cooperation, adding that the neighbors will quickly establish working groups to promote infrastructure development and monetary cooperation.