China urges consensus with Vietnam on South China Sea issue

Xinhua, June 29, 2011

China on Tuesday called on Vietnam to implement a bilateral consensus on the South China Sea issue that was reached during the China visit of Vietnam's special envoy Ho Xuan Son last weekend.

"We had in-depth discussions with the Vietnamese side on the South China Sea issue during the visit of the special envoy, and the two sides agreed to solve disputes through friendly consultations and avoid making moves that may aggravate or complicate the issue," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a press briefing.

Both countries are opposed to external forces getting involved in the dispute between China and Vietnam and vow to actively guide public opinion and guard against remarks or actions that undermine the friendship and trust between the people of the two countries, Hong said.

"We hope the Vietnamese side will implement the consensus together with us and make efforts to safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea," Hong said.

During the just-concluded visit of Ho Xuan Son, who is also Vietnamese vice foreign minister, he met with State Councillor Dai Bingguo and held talks with Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun.

The two sides agreed to speed up consultations over a pact regarding the fundamental principles to direct solving maritime disputes between China and Vietnam, pledging to work harder to sign an agreement as early as possible, according to a press release from the Foreign Ministry about the meeting between Dai and Ho Xuan Son.

China has repeatedly stated its indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters.

Chinese historical records show that in 1958, the Chinese government claimed the islands in the South China Sea as part of China's sovereign territory, and then Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong expressed agreement in his diplomatic note to then Premier Zhou Enlai.

There was no dissension from any country on China's sovereignty over the area until the 1970s, when countries including Vietnam and the Philippines claimed partial sovereignty.

After long-term negotiations and disputes, Deng Xiaoping initiated his proposal on the issue that put aside the disputes and offered joint exploitation in the region.

In November 2002, China and the 10-member ASEAN adopted a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties on the South China Sea, laying a political foundation for future possible commercial cooperation between China and ASEAN countries as well as the long-term peace and stability in the region.

In March 2005, three oil companies from China, Vietnam and the Philippines signed a landmark tripartite agreement in Manila to jointly prospect oil and gas resources in the disputed South China Sea.