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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs