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Cooperative Approach Ends Maritime Dispute

The Beibu Gulf Demarcation Agreement between China and Vietnam officially took effect on Wednesday.


As the main payoff for decades of arduous but patient and pragmatic negotiations between the two countries, the milestone document is expected to finally end their long-pending maritime demarcation dispute, which was a main source of bilateral discord.


It is also the first-ever document between China and Vietnam which clearly establishes territorial water, exclusive economic zones and continental shelves between the two neighbors in the Beibu Gulf, which is half enclosed by the two countries' land and China's Hainan Island.


Beibu Gulf has long attracted fishermen from China's Guangdong and Hainan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region as well as their Vietnamese counterparts. Due to the absence of a defined water borderline between the two countries, fishing disputes in the area increased in recent years.


Thus, the signing of agreement is expected to bring peace and stability to the long-disputed area and fully demonstrates the two countries have the ability and wisdom to settle the lingering issue left over by history.


Accompanying the maritime demarcation agreement is another agreement on fishery cooperation, in which they agree to work to formulate concrete measures to realize coordinated and sustainable development of the fishery and other biological resources in the gulf. Both sides also agreed to establish a joint fishery commission to coordinate and protect legitimate fishing in the water.


The signing of the two agreements is another tangible result of both countries' determined effort to solve the maritime border issue since they inked a land border demarcation agreement in 1999.


A result of high-degree mutual understanding and concessions, the agreements will undoubtedly help bring enduring peace and stability to Beibu Gulf and the region as a whole, thus serving the fundamental interests of the two countries and their peoples.


The successful demarcation of Beibu Gulf demonstrates that even the thorniest maritime issues can be resolved in a peaceful manner if sincerity is present on both sides.


(China Daily July 2, 2004)




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