The Chinese navy launched its first joint patrol with a foreign counterpart by sending a fleet of vessels Friday to patrol Beibu Gulf with Vietnamese naval ships, the Ministry of National Defense has announced.
Initiated by an agreement signed last October between Cao Gangchuan, China's Defense Minister and Pham Van Tra, Vietnam's Defense Minister, the patrols are aimed at strengthening the cooperation between the two navies and maintaining the stability of the fishing industry and oil exploration in Beibu Gulf, the ministry reported.
Beibu Gulf, also referred to as the Gulf of Tonkin in the West, lies between China and Vietnam. Shallow, less than 60 meters deep, it is the northwestern arm of the South China Sea and a branch of the Pacific Ocean.
The area boasts abundant natural resources including oil, gas and various minerals. It also serves as an important fishing ground for both countries.
(Shanghai Daily April 29, 2006)