News / Asia

Tensions Still Simmer Between Vietnam, China

Vientnamese protesters chant anti-China slogans in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 19, 2014.
Vientnamese protesters chant anti-China slogans in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 19, 2014.
Marianne Brown

Last week Vietnam sent a senior official to China in a bid to ease simmering tensions caused by maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Beijing and Hanoi have tried to mend ties three months after a Chinese oil rig was deployed off the coast of Vietnam, setting off deadly riots and straining ties between the two neighbors.

A trip by a high-ranking member of Vietnam’s Communist Party to Beijing last week sparked speculation that the two countries are moving forward in efforts to smooth ties following months of heightened tensions.

Le Hong Anh returned Wednesday from a two-day trip to China, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“A neighbor cannot be moved away and it is in the common interests of both sides to be friendly to each other," the official Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Xi as saying at the meeting.
 
Vietnam and China would continue to promote relations in the direction of “stable development”, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Hai Binh said at a regular press briefing in Hanoi last week.

He said the two sides would continue to improve cooperation in diplomacy, defense, security, economy, trade, law implementation and humanitarian issues.

A ship (top) of Chinese Coast Guard is seen near a ship of Vietnam Marine Guard in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) off shore of Vietnam May 14, 2014.A ship (top) of Chinese Coast Guard is seen near a ship of Vietnam Marine Guard in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) off shore of Vietnam May 14, 2014.
x
A ship (top) of Chinese Coast Guard is seen near a ship of Vietnam Marine Guard in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) off shore of Vietnam May 14, 2014.
A ship (top) of Chinese Coast Guard is seen near a ship of Vietnam Marine Guard in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) off shore of Vietnam May 14, 2014.

The May deployment of the Chinese oil rig, in waters also claimed by Vietnam, exacerbated a long-standing territorial dispute over islands in the South China Sea. The move triggered anti-China protests across Vietnam, which led to deadly riots in several industrial zones.

China withdrew the platform on July 15 ahead of an oncoming typhoon.

Anh’s visit was the first part of both sides “arm wrestling” over the issue, said Professor Carl Thayer from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

"Anh’s visit has opened up channels. We’re seeing other lower level people explore what’s possible.   China accepted the apology. We’re seeing both sides trying to overcome this but without conceding too much," said Carl.

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, right, and Vietnamese Chief of General Staff of the Army, Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty, review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug. 14, 2014.U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, right, and Vietnamese Chief of General Staff of the Army, Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty, review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug. 14, 2014.
x
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, right, and Vietnamese Chief of General Staff of the Army, Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty, review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug. 14, 2014.
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, right, and Vietnamese Chief of General Staff of the Army, Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty, review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug. 14, 2014.

Several high-level visits from the United States, including that of Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, prompted speculation that Vietnam would seek closer ties with the United States as a bulwark against its giant neighbor.  There has also been a visit from India’s External Affairs Minister, with President Pranab Mukherjee scheduled to visit Vietnam later this month.

During a visit to Hanoi last month, U.S. Senator John McCain said he was confident of support in easing restrictions on the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam.

If this did go ahead, it would “symbolize a real change in the two countries’ relations”, said Vietnam expert Professor Jonathan London from City University, Hong Kong.

"And thirdly and I think this shouldn’t be discounted is that Vietnam stands to gain considerably from U.S. intelligence and expertise and know-how with respect to maritime affairs," he said.

Vietnam was trying to multilateralize as a way of “bargaining” against China, Thayer said.

"China keeps warning them from moving too close to the U.S., but that doesn’t stop them from working towards Japan, which they have already done, and India if they are willing to play the game," said Thayer.

While many have welcomed Anh’s visit to Beijing, the mood is still cautious.  London said he believed no one in Vietnam thought things were where they should be between the two countries, and it was impossible to state with confidence that relations were on the mend.

"After all, this was a representative not of Vietnam but of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, and the way that China operates as we’ve seen is say one thing and do another and Vietnamese are aware of this," said London.

He said the fundamental aspect of Vietnam’s relationship with China was that discussions were conducted behind closed doors so it was impossible to ascertain where things really stood between the two countries.

You May Like

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs