China – Vietnam pledge to increase defense exchanges for stability in South China Sea

Vietnamese General Phan Van Giang and Senior Lieutenant General Wei Phuong Hoa.

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe and his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Giang pledged to increase defense ties between the two countries for the sake of stability in the South China Sea (Vietnam calls it the East Sea) and land border.

According to the Global Times of the Communist Party of China, this commitment was made on the occasion of the seventh annual Border Defense Friendship Exchange Program on April 23 in Quang Hoa district, Cao Bang province, Vietnam, and Long Chau area, Guangxi province, China.

The Global Times quoted Mr. Wei Fenghe as saying that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years, the two sides continued to have exchanges on border defense, showing a deep friendship and maintaining friendly exchanges between the two militaries.

The head of China’s Ministry of National Defense also emphasized that the two sides need to resolve disputes at sea to maintain stability in the East Sea and prevent interference by outside countries. Although it did not name any country that intervened, China’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly voiced opposition to the United States and its allies conducting patrols in the East Sea, considering this an act of aggression destabilizing the disputed waters.

Minister Phan Van Giang at the meeting also expressed gratitude to China for providing a vaccine against COVID-19 to Vietnam and pledged that the Vietnamese army is ready to deepen cooperation with the Chinese side.

Currently, Vietnam and China are having unresolved disputes in the East Sea, where China claims nearly 90% of the area.

In the past March and early April, China continuously held live-fire drills in this sea, even only about 110 km from Hue city of Vietnam, which is completely within the special economic zone of Vietnam.

During the two-year period of the pandemic, RFA has continuously reported photos of minor clashes on the border between defense troops of the two countries related to China’s construction of a fence with nails and preventing the Vietnamese side from building a river embankment. (Translated)