China and Vietnam on Tuesday signed an agreement on basic principles guiding the proper settlement of maritime dispute, vowing not to let the issue affect bilateral ties.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (R), who is also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, meets with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong during a welcome ceremony in Beijing, Oct. 11, 2011.
The agreement was reached as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong paid an official to China at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The two leaders pledged "not to let the maritime problem affect ties between the two countries, two peoples and the peace and stability of the maritime region".
"No action should be taken to complicate or exacerbate the maritime dispute before a final solution is reached," Hu said. "Instead, the two sides should settle the problem in a cool-headed and constructive way."
Hu also urged Vietnam to consider joint development of disputed areas of the South China Sea, and to "take concrete steps as soon as possible".
Trong said if the maritime problem is not properly handled it will affect the entire bilateral relations.
"The Vietnam side is willing to maintain direct communication with the Chinese leaders on a proper settlement of the maritime dispute," Trong said.
He also said Vietnam is willing to implement the principle agreement on settling the maritime dispute reached on Tuesday, and to continue dialogue and negotiation.
He pledged to promote "comrade plus brotherly" bilateral ties with China, "Vietnam will unwaveringly ... promote high-level visits, enhance political mutual trust and strengthen cooperation in all sectors."
The six-point agreement is in accordance with the consensus reached by the leaders of China and Vietnam and is based on a 1993 agreement on basic principles for resolving territorial and border issues existing between the two countries, the agreement said.
The two countries should remain committed to friendly consultations in order to properly handle maritime issues and make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation, the agreement said.
China and Vietnam should seek a basic and long-term approach that will be acceptable for both sides in solving maritime disputes on the basis of legislation and principles enshrined in international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea signed in 1982, the agreement said.
Both sides should fully respect legal principles, take history and other relevant issues into consideration and accommodate each other's concerns in a constructive manner, the agreement said.
In the process of negotiating maritime issues, both sides should abide by the agreements and consensus reached by the countries' senior leaders and implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), the agreement said.
Both sides should solve maritime disputes through negotiations and friendly consultations, and the two countries should consult with other countries if they are also involved in the disputes, the agreement said.
While seeking a basic and long-term approach to resolve maritime issues, both sides should explore interim and temporary solutions, including research and negotiations on the joint development of the sea, without impacting each side's stance and position, the agreement said.
Both sides should seek steady progress in negotiations regarding the maritime demarcation of the baymouth of Beibu Gulf and discuss the joint development of the sea area, the agreement said.
Both sides should promote maritime cooperation in less sensitive fields, including marine environmental protection, scientific research, search and rescue, disaster reduction and prevention, the agreement said.
Heads of the border negotiation delegations of both countries should hold regular meetings twice a year, which will rotate between both countries, the agreement said, adding that special meetings will take place if necessary.
Both sides agreed to set up a hotline contact mechanism in order to allow them to promptly communicate and properly deal with maritime issues, the agreement said.