China Announces Pact With Vietnam on Disputed Sea By BRIAN SPEGELE

26/6/110 nhận xét

Competing territorial claims have led to
 maritime disputes off the coast of Asia.
[WSJ] BEIJING—China said it had reached an agreement with Vietnam to resolve a growing territorial dispute in the South China Sea, though Vietnamese officials didn't comment on the announcement and anti-Chinese demonstrations continued in Hanoi.

The two countries would "peacefully resolve maritime disputes through negotiations and friendly consultations," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement after state councilor Dai Bingguo met Vietnamese Vice Foreign Minister Ho Xuan Son in Beijing on Saturday.

The statement didn't go into any detail on how the countries would resolve the dispute, which has simmered for years and flared again after Vietnam recently accused China of impeding a state-owned oil exploration vessel.

The South China Sea is claimed in whole or part by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia, and is thought to hold significant reserves of oil and natural gas, which China in particular needs to fuel its booming economy.

China says disputes with its neighbors need to be handled bilaterally, and responded indignantly last year to statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the U.S. was prepared to help facilitate multiparty talks to resolve the conflict. U.S. diplomats said this month the U.S. wouldn't take sides in the dispute, but would protect its significant interests in the region.

A senior Chinese diplomat, in unusually stark language, told foreign journalists last week the U.S. needed to stay out of its regional disputes.

"I believe some countries now are playing with fire," said Cui Tiankai, vice minister of foreign affairs. "And I hope the U.S. won't be burned by this fire."

Mr. Cui met in Hawaii on Saturday with Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who told reporters in Washington before the meetings that the U.S. didn't plan to "fan the flames" of the dispute, the Associated Press reported.

Vietnam and the Philippines have appeared to more closely align themselves with the U.S. in the dispute. The U.S. is scheduled to stage joint naval exercises with both countries, though the participants stress they are part of regular cooperation and not a result of the current flare-up of the tensions.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III last week praised a strong U.S. naval presence in the region, which he said deters aggression and ensures freedom of navigation. Vietnam on Friday issued a joint statement with the U.S. that called for freedom of navigation of the seas, as well as a "collaborative, diplomatic process."

Some security analysts say such efforts to internationalize the conflict have stoked an increasingly belligerent response from China. China is rapidly modernizing its navy and preparing to launch its first aircraft carrier, which some in the region worry will aggravate maritime disputes.

Vietnamese demonstrators in Hanoi on Sunday continued anti-Chinese protests for the fourth straight week, as authorities have allowed them to continue.

About 100 people marched through the capital's streets, some carrying signs accusing China of invading its territorial waters, the AP reported.
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