Monday, January 22, 2007

China, Vietnam agree to complete border markings before 2008

China and Vietnam have agreed to speed up the process on the demarcation and erection of border markers along their land boundaries before 2008 and find ways for the joint exploitation of the resource-rich and strategic South China Sea.

These decisions were taken during the just-concluded 13th round of border negotiations between China and Vietnam in Nanning, the Capital city of China's southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region from Thursday to Saturday.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and his Vietnamese counterpart Vu Dung co-chaired the border negotiations. The two sides reviewed the progress achieved since the last round and made further arrangements for the next phase of work, Xinhua news agency reported.

The two sides agreed to speed up the process on the demarcation and erection of border markers along their land boundaries in order to complete the task before 2008, it said.

The two sides will carefully investigate joint exploitation of the South China Sea. They also agreed to push forward negotiations on the demarcation and joint exploitation of the maritime space at the entrance to the Beibu Gulf.

China and Vietnam had agreed in August last year to accelerate oil and gas exploration and extraction as well as allow fishing in the disputed waters of the Beibu Gulf.

Despite ideological and cultural similarities, China and Vietnam have historically had uneasy relations. The two had also engaged in a bloody war in 1979. The two countries normalised diplomatic relations in 1991.

Hanoi and Beijing have clashed in the past over over-lapping sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, as well as to clusters of oil-rich islands.

The last verbal spat between Beijing and Hanoi occurred early this month when China summarily dismissed Vietnam's protests over erection of boundary markers by the Chinese side.

The erection of structures marking the base points of China's territorial sea on the Xisha Islands is an issue within China's sovereignty, and other countries have no right to intervene, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on January four.

"China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha, Nansha Islands and adjacent islands. And we have all historical and legal evidences needed to prove this," he said in response to a question on Vietnam's protest.

Liu made the remarks when commenting on an question that Vietnam had accused China of infringing on its sovereignty by erecting these structures.

He said that according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Chinese Government issued the base points on the Xisha Islands in 1996.

Territorial disputes on the resource-rich South China Sea have emerged among China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia since the 1970s, where each country claimed part of the ownership.

Sourse: Hindu Times

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