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Spratlys > News > English News > December 2000

Category: @News

China, Vietnam to Settle Tonkin Border Dispute
December 25, 2000 12:57 am EST

HANOI (Reuters) - The presidents of China and Vietnam are expected to sign agreements in Beijing Monday settling a long-standing border dispute in the Tonkin Gulf, state media reported.

Foreign ministry officials from both countries have already initialed the two-part settlement in preparation for a signing ceremony between Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong, Xinhua news agency reported.

Luong is scheduled to arrive in China Monday for a five-day visit.

The Tonkin Gulf agreements included a demarcation of the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zones of the two sides, and an agreement on fishing activities, Xinhua said.

The agreements would cap years of negotiations over the body of water, known in China as Beibu Bay, and followed an historic land border agreement between the two sides last year.

That agreement covered 1,200 km (750 miles) of shared border, including 70 areas that had been in dispute since the sides fought a brief but intense war in 1979.

During the war, Chinese troops poured southwards into Vietnam to punish Hanoi for toppling the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, which at the time was a China ally. The conflict inflicted heavy casualties on both sides.

Beijing and Hanoi normalized diplomatic relations in 1991.

The Vietnam's Communist Party mouthpiece Nhan Dan (People) newspaper said the signing would contribute to "creating impetus for strengthening mutual trust, cooperation and friendship" between the two countries.

"We are glad to recognize that the cooperative and friendly relations between Vietnam and China, especially since the normalization of relations, has continuously been consolidated and developed," Nhan Dan said in Monday's front page editorial.

Hanoi and Beijing still have competing claims in two South China Sea archipelagoes -- the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands. The islands are also claimed wholly or partly by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.