China values the upcoming visit by President Truong Tan Sang, which has an important significance to common perception in the China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Kong Xuanyou has said.

In an interview granted to the Vietnamese press on the threshold of President Sang’s State level visit to China from June 19-21, the Chinese Ambassador noted that this is President Sang’s first visit to China, and also the first meeting between State leaders of the two countries after China elected a new leadership.

He noted that the relations between Vietnam and China have made great strides, and besides important opportunities there are issues pending settlement.

“We hope and believe that the two sides will stand on the general view of the China-Vietnam relationship and the overall prospects of the development cause of each country, the visit by President Truong Tan Sang will contribute to promoting bilateral relations, and at the same time reach agreement on the reinforcement of mutual political trust, effective cooperation and satisfactory settlement of existing differences, thus lifting the bilateral ties to a new height,” said the ambassador.

Assessing the current China-Vietnam relations, the ambassador said this year, with joint efforts made by both sides, the China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership continues to see new developments with the more regular exchange of visits by high-ranking leaders.

The two countries’ leaders have exchanged views and reached important common perceptions on reinforcing mutual trust, boosting cooperation and settling differences, significantly contributing to strengthening the China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

Secondly, the two sides have intensified existing mechanisms of exchange. The two countries will organise the 9th theoretical conference to boost the exchange of State management experience, he said, adding that China will continue assisting Vietnam in training Party officials.

Cooperative mechanisms between the two countries’ diplomatic, defence and public security sectors continue to work effectively, with the recent successful organisation of the 7th strategic dialogue on defence.

Cooperation and exchanges between the Chinese and Vietnamese localities, especially those sharing the border, have been further deepened, he said.

Thirdly, economic-trade cooperation between the two countries has been expanding, with China being Vietnam ’s leading trade partner for nine consecutive years. Two-way trade hit 40 billion USD last year and the figure reached 18.9 billion USD in the first five months of this year, up 37.3 percent year on year.

The two countries are making all-out efforts to realise their bilateral trade target of 60 billion USD by 2015.

Fourthly, exchanges between the two countries’ people have been boosted with a range of activities such as people’s forums and border youth festivals.

In addition, China is the most important tourist market of Vietnam with millions of Chinese visiting Vietnam each year.

China provides Vietnam with 150 Government scholarships per year. In 2012, more than 16,000 Vietnamese students pursued their study in China , the fourth largest number among countries sending students to China .

Fifthly, Ambassador Kong Xuan-you noted that the two sides have made efforts to maintain stability at sea, accelerate negotiations on demarcation and joint exploitation of the area off the Tonkin Gulf mouth as well as cooperation in less sensitive issues at sea. They have successively established suitable working mechanisms in the two countries and agreed on priority projects for cooperation such as coordination in search and rescue at sea.

Regarding the potential and prospects for the development of the Vietnam-China relationship, Ambassador Kong Xuan-you stressed that regardless of any fluctuation in the international situation, China will consistently pursue its path of peaceful development and a foreign policy of being friendly with neighbours and a partner of neighbours.

He affirmed that his country will develop the China-Vietnam relationship under the motto of “friendly neighbourliness, comprehensive cooperation, long-term stability and looking toward the future” and the spirit of “good neighbours, good friends, good comrades and good partners” with a strategic and long-term vision on the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two nations.

“China will continue to cooperate with Vietnam, enhancing mutual political trust, fostering mutually-beneficiary cooperation, satisfactorily settling existing disputes and raising the friendly neighbourliness and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries to a new level, thus bringing practical benefits to both peoples,” he said.

According to the ambassador, the new leadership of China attaches special importance to relations between the two Parties and States of China and Vietnam .

He said the two countries should increase exchanges, expand cooperation, deepen people-to-people cultural exchanges, satisfactorily settle maritime issues and closely coordinate with each other at multilateral forums, he noted.

Regarding the maritime issue, Kong said this is the only issue yet to be resolved between the two countries, certainly hindering the development of the bilateral ties.

The two countries need time to thoroughly address this extremely complicated and sensitive issue, he stressed, adding that for a satisfactory and step-be-step settlement of the issue, high-ranking leaders of the two countries have reached important common perceptions. The two sides have signed an agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-based issue which stresses that Vietnam and China must solve the issue based on their friendship and through negotiations and consultations, not letting their differences affect the favourable development of the bilateral ties.

Guided by the common perception of the two countries’ leaders, the two sides have established governmental- and expert-level border negotiation mechanisms, he added.

Kong went on to say that as China and Vietnam are neighbouring socialist countries which are both in the key stage of their reform and development, the consolidation of the bilateral relationship and the strengthening of their mutually beneficiary cooperation suits the basic interests of both countries and peoples, benefits the protection and development of the cause of socialism as well as peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

That is the general situation of the two countries’ relationship, he affirmed, adding that if the two sides stand on this general situation, strictly implement and obey the related common perceptions of the high-ranking leaders and the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-based issue, effectively control differences, actively seek cooperation and practically maintain stability, the maritime issue will surely be resolved in a satisfactory manner.

The Chinese Ambassador also affirmed that the new government of China gives priority to ASEAN in its external policy and backs the strong development of ASEAN countries, including Vietnam .

On the occasion of President Sang’s visit, Vietnamese Ambassador to China Nguyen Van Tho also granted an interview to Vietnamese and Chinese press on the significance of the visit and the Vietnam-China relationship.

He said the visit takes place in the context that the world and the region see rapid and complicated developments and both Vietnam and China are in the key stage of their renewal and reform.

Even when the world and regional situation has undergone many changes and the relations between the two countries also went through ups and downs, the leaders and people of Vietnam and China never change their common perception that the stable development of the bilateral ties is very important for not only the development of each country but also for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, the ambassador affirmed.

Since the two countries normalised their relations in 1991, cooperation and friendship have been the main stream in the bilateral ties despite some differences, he said.

Over the past years, the Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership has been continuously consolidated and developed with the more regularly exchange of delegations at all levels, and the recent establishment of a hotline between their high-ranking leaders, he said, adding that during their first call via the hotline, Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed on major orientations for future bilateral relations.

The ambassador also highlighted the great strides in economic-trade and investment cooperation between the two countries, the expanding and deepening cooperation in the national defence and security sectors as well as the close ties in cultural, education, tourism and people-to-people exchange.

He noted that the two countries have to date settled two out of three major issues bequeathed by history, which are the land border and the Tonkin Gulf . This reflected great efforts made by the two countries’ leaders and people.

He said the only issue in the bilateral ties is the East Sea, which is a great and difficult long-term issue that needs a clear and consistent stance.

If this problem is not solved satisfactorily, it will affect the overall situation of the two countries’ relationship as well as regional peace and stability, he noted.

The ambassador recalled that the two countries have reached the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-based issue on the basis of friendly negotiations and frank and equal discussions with respect for each other’s interests and international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) towards the formation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

The two sides have conducted a number of negotiation rounds of the working group on the area beyond the mouth of the Tonkin Gulf to speed up the delimitation and consider cooperation for mutual development in this area. They have also reached agreement on three cooperation projects in less sensitive fields at sea.

In addition, ensuring Vietnamese fishermen’s freedom to fish at traditional grounds in the East Sea is very important as it has a great impact on the life and sentiments of Vietnamese people.

According to Ambassador Tho, during President Sang’s visit, the two sides will continue straightforward and sincere discussions on the East Sea issue.

The Vietnamese side wishes that from the strategic height and friendship, the two countries’ leaders will instruct and accelerate the settlement of the East Sea issue through peaceful negotiations on the basis of equality and mutual respect on the basis of international law, particularly the UNCLOS 1982, and the strict compliance with the DOC towards the formation of the COC, said the ambassador.

The two sides will also discuss measures to deal with issues arising from fishing activities and fishermen, not letting it affect the friendship as well as the life and sentiments of the people.

They will talk measures to further strengthen political trust and uphold the traditional friendship between the two countries’ people, especially young generations, as well as consolidate and expand mutually beneficiary cooperation in all aspects.

At the same time, in order to create a breakthrough in economic-trade and investment cooperation between the two countries in the coming time, Ambassador Tho emphasised the need to fully promote the role of their existing cooperative mechanisms, especially the Steering Committee on Bilateral Cooperation, in making plans for and effectively managing economic cooperation activities.

The two sides should timely and effectively handle emerging issues such as ensuring orderly and stable border trade, labour, food safety and hygiene, and plant and animal quarantine, he said, adding that Vietnam’s trade deficit with China should also be dealt with.

Vietnam encourages Chinese businesses to increase investment in infrastructure, manufacturing and support industries, firstly at industrial and export processing zones jointly invested by the two countries, said the ambassador.-VNA