The Vietnam-China relationship saw positive developments in 2013, contributing to stability and peace in the region and the world at large, Vietnamese Ambassador to China Nguyen Van Tho has said.

Bilateral ties have recorded progress in various fields since the two countries normalised their relations, Tho told reporters on the sidelines of a recent national external affairs conference in Hanoi.

According to the ambassador, Vietnamese and Chinese high-ranking leaders have reached common perceptions and important agreements on deepening the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two nations.

In 2011 and 2012, some issues emerged in bilateral ties, especially the East Sea dispute. To deal with this complex situation, the two countries’ high-ranking leaders reached common perceptions, including an agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues on the basis of friendship, international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“As the East Sea issue is defined as complicated, long-term and sensitive, it is a must for both sides to gradually resolve the dispute by friendly negotiations in the light of international law and the 1982 UNCLOS,” Tho said.

He said the two neighbours’ relations have seen new developments since the beginning of 2013, especially after the phone calls between Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the State visit by President Truong Tan Sang to China, the meeting between the Vietnamese Prime Minister and the Chinese Premier in Nanning, and most recently, the official visit to Vietnam by Premier Li Keqiang.

The two sides have reached important perceptions to develop their cooperation in a stable and healthy manner, he said, adding that they have agreed to set up three working groups on sea, land and financial-monetary issues.

The two sides have pledged to hasten the operations of the three groups to increase the number of Chinese investment projects in Vietnam , especially in transport infrastructure, and increase bilateral financial-monetary cooperation, the diplomat stated.

Regarding marine cooperation, Ambassador Tho said that the two sides were unanimous on finding transitional solutions that are acceptable to both sides. While negotiating for a basic and long-term solution to the East Sea issue, they agreed to not complicate the situation, use force or the threat of force while promoting cooperation in less sensitive issues and accelerating the demarcation of maritime boundaries in the waters off the mouth of the Gulf of Tonkin .

Both sides have also agreed to sit at the negotiation table to soon locate an area where they can cooperate for mutual development in the waters off the mouth of the gulf, he added.

He also stressed that cooperation for mutual development in the East Sea must also be in line with Vietnamese and international laws and the 1982 UNCLOS.

Regarding joint sea patrols between the two armies over the past time, the ambassador affirmed that such activities are very good if they take place regularly, contributing to strengthening the friendship and understanding between the two armies in particular and the two countries in general.

Mentioning two-way trade between Vietnam and China , Tho noted that bilateral trade turnover has grown strongly in recent years, surpassing 40 billion USD in 2012.

He said he believes that the target of 60 billion USD in two-way trade by 2015 set by the two countries’ leaders is within reach.

China has been the largest trade partner of Vietnam for many consecutive years and this will remain true in the time to come, he said, adding that two-way trade exchanges bring benefits to both sides as they can create jobs for millions of their people.

However, he noted that Vietnam ’s trade deficit with China remains large and is increasing. This issue has been mentioned during meetings between the two countries’ leaders.

To reduce the trade deficit, the leaders agreed that the Vietnamese side will actively list products of its strength such as farm produce and seafood, and the Chinese side will facilitate the export of those commodities, he said.-VNA