News / Asia

    Top China Diplomat Travels to Vietnam for Talks to Ease Tensions

    Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, is greeted by a hotel executive as he arrives in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 17, 2014.
    Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, is greeted by a hotel executive as he arrives in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 17, 2014.
    Reuters
    China's top diplomat arrived in Vietnam Tuesday in a sign the two countries want to ease tensions over China's deployment of an oil rig in the disputed South China Sea, but experts said there were many obstacles to healing the ruptured relationship.
     
    The visit by State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister, will be the highest level direct contact between Beijing and Hanoi since a Chinese state oil company parked the rig in waters claimed by both countries on May 2.
     
    Yang would attend an annual meeting on bilateral cooperation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing. Vietnamese officials said Yang would meet Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as well as the head of the country's ruling communist party.
     
    “We hope that Vietnam keeps its eye on the broader picture, meets China halfway and appropriately resolves the present situation,” Hua said, without directly mentioning the rig.
     
    Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said the rig would be discussed.

    “As we have affirmed many times, Vietnam has always been patient to look for dialogue with China to peacefully resolve the tension in the East Sea,” Binh said, referring to the South China Sea, in an AP report.

    “This meeting, therefore, will surely be a channel and an event where the two sides can discuss the issue to find solutions to the current tension," Binh added.

    Ties between the two neighbors have been largely frozen since early May, with both sides constantly accusing the other of inflaming the situation. Dozens of Vietnamese and Chinese coastguard and fishing vessels have repeatedly squared off around the rig, resulting in a number of collisions.
     
    Olive branch

    Ni Lexiong, a naval expert at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said he believed China was extending an olive branch to Vietnam.
     
    “Of course our country wants to avoid conflict, but can this visit really solve all of the issues?” Ni said. “It's difficult to say to what extent there will be resolutions.”
     
    “Vietnam in this case went too far. It's up to them to choose not to incite conflict,” he added.

    Vietnam’s former consul general to Guangzhou, China, told VOA’s Vietnamese Service that Beijing is seeking compromise through Yang’s visit.

    “If it sees sense after being strongly opposed by Vietnamese people, and being criticized by the world community, it would be better to withdraw the drilling platform," said Duong Danh Dy. "It is up to them to decide. China has recently moved the rig and it appears that China is prepared for gradual de-escalation.”
     
    The Haiyang Shiyou 981 rig is drilling between the Paracel Islands, which are occupied by China, and the Vietnamese coast.
     
    Vietnam has said the rig is in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf, while China says it is operating within its waters.
     
    The rig's deployment triggered anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam last month in which four people were killed during a rampage of destruction and looting of factories believed to be owned by Chinese companies. Many of the factories were Taiwanese-owned.
     
    China has demanded Vietnam provide compensation for damage caused in the riots and punish those responsible.
     
    Vietnam detained several hundred people in the aftermath of the violence. Around a dozen people have been tried and given jail terms of up to three years.
     
    Prime Minister Dung last month said his government was considering taking legal action against China following deployment of the rig. That drew an angry response from Beijing.
     
    China has said the rig will explore in the area until mid-August.
     
    Beijing claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, but parts of the potentially energy-rich waters are also subject to claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

    VOA’s Vietnamese Service contributed to this report.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: So So
    June 18, 2014 7:34 AM
    Monroe Doctrine makes good sense.

    by: So So
    June 18, 2014 7:31 AM
    ... If gets pushed too hard VN may have to become one. A democratic VN partner of the TPP and with strong tie militarily to the US and its allies inn the region will make VN prosperous and safe.

    by: So So from: US
    June 18, 2014 7:03 AM
    A military ally of the US in the backyard of China house is not a good thing.
    If VN gets pushed too hard it may have to become one or something close to it.

    by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
    June 17, 2014 9:43 PM
    Taiwan published the nine dash line early as 1947! Democratic Taiwan still claims the nine dash line!
    PRC formally announced the sovereignty over xisha, nansha islands in 1958, and then viet PM followed by recognizing it the same year!
    Util 1974, viet text books were still use the Chinese names for xisha nansha islands!
    Viet is an evil, filthy liar and thief! Viet must be punished!
    In Response

    by: Henry Dinh from: USA
    June 17, 2014 11:46 PM
    China is the biggest liar of all ! and the filthy Chinese such as Huang should be so shameful of his own country as to renounce his citizenship as many righteous Chinese friends of mine have done. The more Huang talks, the more it shows his ignorance. Vietnam has always owned these islands long before the 5th century. In 1974, South Vietnam was the official owner of these islands. Show me a piece of paper that Nguyen Van Thieu agreed with Red commies on these islands!!!

    China should be kicked in the butt for being so dumb!
    In Response

    by: Spy from: Canada
    June 17, 2014 11:08 PM
    Try not to get caught. Engineer and thug sent to Canada to learn from the Canadian Navy, ...

    by: NG from: Canada
    June 17, 2014 7:50 PM
    Please note that Vietnam claimed almost all South China Sea as its own territory, and extracted and is extracting huge amounts of oil and gas from disputed South China Sea. China didn't get even one drop of oil from South China Sea so far. Plus the China oil rig is with China side in terms of South China Sea boundary (9-dash line) recognized by Vietnam in written form in 1950-1970s.

    by: NG from: Canada
    June 17, 2014 7:43 PM
    Please remember KMT government (Taiwan), a US ally, set up 9-dash line in 1940s, and Vietnam recognized the boundary in South China Sea between China and Vietnam in written form in 1950s-1970s. The current oil rig of China is within China in terms of Vietnam-recognized boundary in 1950-1970s.

    Please also remember that it is Vietnam who occupied most South China Sea islands and extracted (is extracting) huge amounts of gas and oil from South China Sea , NOT China, China didn’t get one drop of oil from South China sea so far. So it is Vietnam who bully China, a small dog is biting a big dog.
    Calm down before you only blame China and before your prejudice. These Asian countries should talk and stop provocative actions, e.g. Vietnam should stop extracting gas and oil from disputed South China Sea in order to get China back to the Table. Vietnam, the aggressive small dog, should not bully China, the big dog, much if Vietnam really want to solve South China Sea issues.

    Why some guys here were so easily cheated by Vietnam? Ignorance and prejudice without basic knowledge of South China Sea may be one of the reasons.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 17, 2014 12:01 PM
    AS ALWAYS? -- China wants to settle all disputes by peaceful dialog, and sit down and drink tea together, and talk? -- (REMEMBER?) -- there isn't a (good lawyer) on this earth, that has ever said that China's (nine dash line) violated any "Law of the Sea" or any other laws anywhere? -- (But, Vietnam might convince China to share?)

    by: So So from: US
    June 17, 2014 10:01 AM
    Something new, Communist China is susceptible to world opinions, (or she is pretending, may be?)
    In Response

    by: Ian from: USA
    June 17, 2014 11:33 AM
    it is just a Chinese ploy in the stealing and establishing total ownership of the sea in the middle of those South-East Asian countries

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