|Vietnamese Defence Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich (L) and his Chinese counterpart Sen. Lieut. Gen Chang Wanquan
Vietnamese Defence Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich and his Chinese counterpart Sen. Lieut. Gen Chang Wanquan held talks in Beijing on August 30 as part of Lich’s official friendly visit to China.
The ministers cherished the fruitful developments of the relationship between the two armies, with strategic dialogues, delegation exchanges, border guard cooperation, joint maritime patrols, the sharing of experience in joining the UN peace-keeping operations, and especially the Vietnam-China Border Defence Friendship Exchange Programme.
They emphasised their resolve to successfully organise the fourth programme slated for April 2017, expand the border guard cooperation model, maintain the exchange of high-level meetings, implement defence strategic dialogues at the deputy defence ministerial level, and increase exchanges between the two countries’ young officers.
They held that defence collaboration is an important factor of the bilateral comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and a pillar promoting links between the two Parties and States.
The host said General Lich’s visit to China is of significance as it helps elevate the bilateral defence ties to a new level and significantly contributes to the friendship between the two Parties and States.
Minister Lich, who is Politburo member and Vice Secretary of the Central Military Commission, highlighted that Vietnam’s defence policy is self-defence, not allowing other countries to set up their military bases in its territory and not using or threatening to use force to address disputes, affecting the stability and security of the entire region.
In its foreign policy, Vietnam prioritises relations with countries sharing its border, he said, noting that the Vietnamese Party, State and army aim to build solidarity, friendship, mutual trust and stable, long-term and comprehensive relationship with China.
Regarding the East Sea issue, Lich affirmed Vietnam’s consistent stance that the two countries should observe common perceptions reached by their high-ranking leaders and solve disputes by peaceful measures in line with international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS).
They need to seriously follow the Vietnam-China agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related matters and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and work to reach a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) as soon as possible.
The two sides should take no actions that complicate and expand the disputes, particularly not use or threaten to use force to address the disputes, and maintain peace and stability in the East Sea.
According to the Vietnamese official, ASEAN always regards China as one of its important partners. However, sovereignty disputes in the East Sea are posing challenges for the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership.
Lich, therefore, underscored the need to enhance cooperation between the ten-member group and China in an effort to seek solutions to the East Sea issue.
Sen. Lieut. Gen Chang Wanquan stressed that China always attaches importance to the time-honoured relations with Vietnam and wishes to solve disputes satisfactorily so as to protect peace and stability in the East Sea.
At the end of their talks, the two ministers witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the Vietnamese Institute for Military Strategy and China’s Academy of Military Science.
During the visit, Vietnam’s military delegation also paid a courtesy call to Politburo member and Vice President of China Li Yuanchao at the Great Hall of the People.
General Lich said his visit aims to implement the two countries’ high-ranking agreements while solidifying the traditional friendship, political trust and comprehensive cooperation between the two armies in a result-orientated manner. It also looks to enhance the healthy and solid development of relations between the two Parties and States, actively contributing to peace, stability and development in the region.
He said Vietnam appreciates assistance of China, the former Soviet Union and other socialist countries for its struggle for national independence and reunification in the past. The Vietnamese Party, Government, people and army always treasure the Vietnam-China friendship, which was set up and nurtured by late Presidents Ho Chi Minh and Mao Zedong and following leaders.
Vietnam wants to sustainably develop its comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with China and considers this the top priority in its foreign policy, he added.
Briefing the host on the fine cooperation between the two armies, Lich said he hopes China’s Party and State leaders will continue fostering the defence relationship so as to turn it into an important pillar in bilateral ties.
For his part, Vice President Li affirmed that his country also attaches importance to its time-honoured amity with Vietnam and wishes to develop bilateral cooperation in a more practical and deeper manner.
He suggested both sides increase high-level delegation exchanges, adding that he looks forwards to visits to China by leaders of Vietnam’s Party, State and National Assembly.
He also noted growing defence affiliation with such activities as dialogues at all levels, personnel training, cross-border exchanges, border guard cooperation and joint patrols at sea.
The Chinese Party and Government support stronger connections between the two armies which will help reinforce the countries’ comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, Li stressed.
During the visit, Lich met Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Fan Changlong and told him that China is a major neighbour and leading economic and trade partner of Vietnam.
Fan said the friendly neighbourliness and mutually beneficial cooperation are the only sound choice for Vietnam and China.
Both sides discussed major orientations for cooperation between the two armies in the time to come as well as regional and global issues of shared concern.
On the East Sea issue, Lich told his hosts that Vietnam always sincerely wants to settle disputes together with China on the basis of equality and respect for each other and international law.
Lich suggested both sides effectively realise common perceptions of the two countries’ Party and State leaders and the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of issues at sea between Vietnam and China.
The two countries should promote mechanisms on negotiating issues at sea while directing their maritime forces to exercise restraint to avoid conflicts and treat Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen humanely in accordance with international practices and the friendship tradition of the two nations.
While in China, the Vietnamese delegation paid floral tribute to late President Mao Zedong and visited Chinese army units.