After months of heated tension between China and Vietnam over the maritime border of the resource-rich South China Sea, the two countries have now signed an agreement highlighting a plan to manage the sometimes bitter controversy.
The deal inked on Tuesday agrees to hold discussions twice a year for differences resolutions. It also stipulates the establishment of a hotline between the two countries to address any potential disagreements in a more prompt manner. The New York Times reported that the agreement was signed in Beijing Zhang Zhijun, a vice foreign minister of China, and his Vietnamese counterpart, Ho Xuan-son. The main idea of the agreement is to form basic, long-term solutions for issues regarding usage and territory claims of the South China Sea, the islands, and resource reserves within it, while staying mutually respectful and beneficial to each side.
Over the course of this year, tensions raised between China and Vietnam after a serious of nonmilitary advances with vessels in the South China Sea. The two nations even disagree on the name of the body of water, China calling it the “South Sea”, and Vietnam the “East Sea.”
Any final agreement should be based on international law, and acceptable the both sides, BBC wrote of the deal’s intent. What makes this even trickier is that China and Vietnam aren’t even the only players when it comes to the divvy up of the islands and oil and gas reserves. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines are also contenders for South China Sea stake.
Only time will tell how Vietnam and China cooperate together, and with their neighbors on this very tough subject of designating maritime borders to the South China Sea.