China Vietnam navigate through South China Sea differences amid heightened Beijing-Manila conflict

Beijing, Apr 5 (PTI) China and Vietnam on Friday tried to navigate through their bitter differences over the South China Sea as their foreign ministers held talks here amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Manila over the maritime dispute.
    Bui Thanh Son, the Foreign Minister of Vietnam, held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi as the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to the code of conduct agreement in the South China Sea (SCS) besides bolstering trade ties.
    Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan besides China have counterclaims over the South China Sea and Beijing remains the central focus of the dispute as it claims most parts of the area are hotly contested by the rest.
    Both China and Vietnam ruled by their respective Communist parties fought a bitter war in 1979 besides periodic tensions between their navies over the South China Sea dispute.
    China seeks to maintain close ties with Vietnam with bilateral initiatives pacifying Hanoi not to ratchet up the tensions over the South China Sea.
    Son’s visit is taking place amid a bitter conflict between China and the Philippines as Manila backed by the US is trying to assert its claim over the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea which is strongly resisted by Beijing.
    The coast guard ships of both countries jostled to assert their claim which both claim as part of their territory.
    On the Foreign Ministers talks Vietnamese official media reported that Son and Wang affirmed the leading importance of the Vietnam - China relations in each country's foreign policy, stressing the need to enhance coordination and effectively carry out the high-level agreements and common perceptions to unceasingly develop bilateral ties.
    “With regard to sea-related issues, the two sides underlined the importance of seriously implementing the agreements and common perceptions reached between the two Parties and countries’ leaders on properly controlling and settling differences,” a report in the VN Express said.
    Wang told Son that both sides should jointly safeguard international equity and justice and continue to support each other on issues concerning major common interests.
    It is necessary to be vigilant against engaging in camp confrontations in the region and cobbling together various "small circles" to undermine regional peace and stability, Wang said.
    On Tuesday, Philippine Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr warned the Filipinos to be wary of the Chinese “propaganda trap” which may deflect “Beijing’s encroachment” of the South China Sea.
    In an open letter, Teodoro said, "Let us not fall into the trap set by Chinese propaganda of refocusing the debate on a so-called promise while deflecting attention away from China's government, thereby freeing and allowing them to continue with their illegal activities in our exclusive economic zone," according to a report in the official media here.
    The Philippines also accused China of “intimidating smaller countries” which is refuted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)