As relations with the United States continues to worsen every day, China has moved to improve its relations with Vietnam and other South East Asian neighbors.
According to media reports, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi sought to placate an increasingly hostile Hanoi in a virtual meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh. This came a day after his deputy, Luo Zhaohui, tried to reassure China’s neighbors that it wanted regional peace and stability.
Beijing also said it finalized talks for a free-trade pact with Cambodia.
China’s state run Global Times reported that the 12th meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation was held via video link on July 21.
Wang was quoted as saying that since the COVID-19 outbreak, China and Vietnam have given full play to their respective institutional advantages, and effectively controlled the epidemic successively.
Talking about the South China Sea issue, Wang Yi said that China’s policy has not changed. Due to geostrategic needs, however, the United States fanned the flames everywhere to stir up tension and turmoil in the region.
“China and Vietnam should control their differences through bilateral dialogue and consultation in accordance with the consensus reached by the top leaders of the two parties and countries,” Wang was quoted as saying.
Relations between US and China have worsened in recent times over various issues ranging from handling of COVID-19 pandemic, to clampdown in Hong Kong and to Chinese aggression in South China Sea.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently declared that Beijing’s claims to nearly 90 per cent of the South China Sea were “completely unlawful”.
On July 21, Pompeo again blasted Beijing and urged nations to push back against the Asian giant.
“The CCP’s exploitation of this disaster to further its own interests has been disgraceful. Rather than helping the world, General Secretary Xi has shown the world the party’s true face. We talked about how we have seen Hong Kong’s freedoms crushed. We have watched the CCP bully its neighbors, militarize features in the South China Sea, and instigate a deadly confrontation with India,” said Pompeo.