The fourth strategic dialogue on defence between Vietnam and China took place in Beijing on June 5.

The Vietnamese delegation was headed by Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, while Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army led the Chinese delegation at the event.

At the meeting, the two sides expressed their common concerns over recent changes in the Asia-Pacific region.

Vinh said in addition to deepening security and defence cooperation between Vietnam and China, the two countries should also strengthen cooperation with other regional nations and join regional security organisations .

However, they have to be vigilant not to be drawn into organisations that fight against third countries, Vinh added.

Regarding the ties between the two countries and two armies, the Vietnamese Deputy Defence Minister stressed that he agreed with the four principles put forth by Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo at their bilateral meeting during the 12th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last week.

The principles include: the two defence ministries should establish strategic trust, creating a foundation for future steps; leaders of the two ministries should be open-minded and have mutual trust; the two sides must deal with disputes and unsettled issues head-on, and together seek ways to address them; and study matters that have not yet been solved on the basis of nation-to-nation and military-to-military sincere discussions.

By following these principles, strategic trust between the two armies will be built and consolidated, helping foster strategic trust between Vietnam and China , Vinh said.

In order to strengthen the trust between the two armies, Vinh proposed five directions for their future cooperation: special attention should be paid to political and party work in the two armies; strengthening information exchange between the two sides’ strategic agencies; considering deputy defence minister-level strategic dialogue as the key factor for the two sides to assess the situation and work out effective solutions; strengthening cooperation between the two sides’ navies and marine police forces. Based on which, leaders of the two Parties and countries will have a comfortable environment to make decisions at a strategic level, instructing the two navies to meet each other and use a hotline between the two naval commanders to exchange necessary information.

Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo said he completely agreed with the proposed directions.

He said the Chinese side will actively implement the two sides’ plan to exchange delegations in 2013; actively participate in cooperation on land and at sea; amend an agreement on border cooperation with the goal of signing it during Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang’s upcoming visit to China; continue officer training programmes; regularly share results of studies conducted by the two armies’ research facilities; strengthen cooperation in party and political work; and continue three-party security cooperation.

Regarding the East Sea situation, Deputy Defence Minister Vinh affirmed that this issue is part of the Vietnam-China strategic relationship as it is a difficult issue that takes a long time to resolve to ensure and harmonise each side’s legitimate interest and sovereignty in line with international law.

He said the two armies should consult their parties and states, and consistently settle disputes appropriately through peaceful talks and friendly consultation.

The two armies need to work together to create a peaceful environment in the East Sea , maintain the status quo, reduce their presence in sensitive areas and avoid actions that can cause misunderstandings, Vinh said.

He proposed the armies do not use force or threaten the use of force, and work towards signing an agreement to not use or threaten the use of force at sea.

Vinh suggested the two armies expand cooperative fields, especially naval cooperation, and thoroughly grasp the humane treatment of fishermen working peacefully at sea.

Cooperation via the hotline set up between the two countries’ naval commanders should be increased and the popularisation of the friendship between the two armies and people should be stepped up, Deputy Minister Vinh said.

Agreeing with the Vietnamese guest’s opinions, the Chinese host said that resolving all existing matters properly will create a momentum to develop the two countries’ relations.

The two sides need to be determined to achieve positive results as in the past demarcation of the land border and delimitation in the Gulf of Tonkin , he suggested, adding that the two armies should remain calm and not use force to threaten each other whilst dealing with any developments at sea to avoid actions that could lead to misunderstandings.

Following the dialogue, the two sides witnessed the signing of an agreement to set up a direct security telephone line between the two defence ministries. The line aims to increase exchanges, negotiations and friendship between their leaders.

Earlier, the Vietnamese delegation visited the Peacekeeping Centre of the Chinese Defence Ministry.-VNA