China says held frank and friendly talks with Vietnam on bilateral ties

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said its vice foreign minister held frank and friendly talks with his Vietnamese counterpart in Hanoi on Thursday that encompassed bilateral ties, land borders and maritime issues.

The meeting between Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong and Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Vu had not previously been disclosed by Beijing.

They agreed that bilateral relations have maintained good momentum under both countries’ current leadership, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Friday in response to reporters’ questions.

The two sides value the progress made in the opening and upgrading of border crossings and infrastructure connectivity, Wang told a regular news conference.

He added that they had agreed to try to make the Sino-Vietnamese land border a border of “permanent peace” and “intergenerational friendship and prosperous development”.

The two sides fully affirmed joint efforts made to maintain the stability of their maritime situation in recent years, reaffirmed the need to continue to strengthen dialogue and consultation, as well as to properly manage their differences, he said.

When asked if President Xi Jinping would visit Hanoi, Wang said he had no information that he could provide.

China and the United States have been jostling for influence among Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam, which in September elevated its ties with Washington to a comprehensive strategic partnership, putting its one-time enemy on par with Beijing and Moscow.

Reuters last month reported that Vietnamese and Chinese officials were preparing for a possible trip by Xi to Hanoi. At the time, plans were for the trip to take place at the end of October or in early November.

Three Hanoi-based diplomats subsequently said the visit was likely to be postponed to December.

(This story has been corrected to fix Nguyen Minh Vu’s name in paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Joe Cash; writing by Ryan Woo and Albee Zhang; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)