Vietnamese Defence Minister General Ngô Xuân Lịch meets with his Chinese counterpart Sen. Lieut. Gen Chang Wanquan in Beijing yesterday as part of Lịch’s official friendly visit to China. — VNA/VNS Photo Hải Yến
BEIJING – The Defence Ministers of China and Vietnam have agreed to deepen defence ties between the two countries, thus bringing pragmatic interests to their people and contributing to peace and stability in the region and the world at large.
Vietnamese Defence Minister General Ngô Xuân Lịch and his Chinese counterpart Sen. Lieut. Gen Chang Wanquan held talks in Beijing yesterday as part of Lịch’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 Việt Nam-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 Lịch’s visit to China was of significance as it helped elevate the bilateral defence ties to a new level and significantly contributed to the friendship between the two Parties and States.
Minister Lịch, who is Politburo member and Vice Secretary of the Central Military Commission, highlighted that "Việt Nam’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, "Việt Nam 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 a stable, long-term and comprehensive relationship with China."
Regarding the East Sea issue, Lịch affirmed Việt Nam’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 should seriously follow the Việt Nam-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.
Lịch, 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 attached importance to the time-honoured relations with Vietnam and wished 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, Việt Nam’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 Lịch said his visit aimed 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 looked 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 Việt Nam appreciated the 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 treasured the Việt Nam-China friendship, which was set up and nurtured by late Presidents Hồ Chí Minh and Mao Zedong and following leaders.
Việt Nam wanted to sustainably develop its comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with China and considered this the top priority in its foreign policy, he added.
Briefing the host on the fine cooperation between the two armies, Lịch said he hoped China’s Party and State leaders would 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 attached importance to its time-honoured amity with Việt Nam and wished to develop bilateral cooperation in a more practical and deeper manner.
He suggested both sides increase high-level delegation exchanges, adding that he looks forward to visits to China by the leaders of Việt Nam’s Party, State and National Assembly.
He also noted growing defence cooperation 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, Lịch met Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Fan Changlong and told him that China was a major neighbour and leading economic and trade partner of Việt Nam.
Fan said "friendly neighbourliness and mutually beneficial cooperation are the only sound choices for Việt Nam 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, Lịch told his hosts that "Việt Nam always sincerely wants to settle disputes together with China on the basis of equality and respect for each other and international law."
Lịch said 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 tradition of friendship between the two nations.
While in China, the Vietnamese delegation paid a floral tribute to the late President Mao Zedong and visited Chinese army units. — VNS