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Spratlys > News > English News > December 2000

Category: @News

China, Vietnam Finally Resolve Disputed Tonkin Gulf Border


The Chinese and Vietnamese foreign ministers Monday finally signed a joint statement to demarcate their disputed Gulf of Tonkin sea border after years of bitter argument. Foreign Ministers Tang Jiaxuan of China and Nguyen Dy Nien of Vietnam signed the statements on the first day of President Tran Duc Luong's five-day official visit here.

The hotly-contested Gulf of Tonkin border between southern China and northern Vietnam was finally settled, as well as an agreement on fishery cooperation in the gulf, which China calls Beibu Gulf, Chinese Xinhua state news agency said.

Negotiations between the communist rivals on the demarcation of territorial waters in the gulf have dragged on since 1992.

The two countries also pledged to expand relations and avoid the use of force in settling disputes, following Luong's talks with "They will consult each other in time in case of disputes and adopt a cool and constructive attitude to handle them properly. They will not allow disputes to impede the normal development of their relations." The statement said the two countries would undertake to "implement in real earnest" accords already signed on their common land border.

Vietnam and China officially agreed on that border a year ago, two decades after a short but bloody conflict between the two neighbours following Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia, then allied to Beijing.

The neighbours also agreed to carry out "multi-level military exchanges" and expand cooperation in the security field.

In addition, they listed several other areas including economics, education, culture and international bodies in which the two sides would foster exchanges.

The statement said Vietnam would uphold the "one-China" policy and conduct only unofficial economic exchanges and trade with Taiwan.

"China understands and appreciates the above position" the joint statement said, noting "China is firmly opposed to the establishment of any official relations in any form or any exchanges of an official nature with Taiwan by countries having diplomatic relations with China." However there was no progress made on the two sides' bitter dispute regarding sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys island chains to the far south of China. Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines also lay claim to the Spratlys.

Luong's visit is his first to China as head of state and the second visit by a Vietnamese president since the two nations normalized relations in 1991, Xinhua said. Luong held talks with Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Monday, it added.

Besides Beijing, Luong will also tour Shanghai and Xiamen, Xinhua said.