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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs