China and Vietnam will foster defense cooperation, strengthen strategic communication, settle differences appropriately, and maintain peace and security in the South China Sea, a senior Chinese military official said on Monday.
The two countries are neighbors with a common goal and a shared destiny, and the relationship is developing with positive momentum, said General Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission, who led a delegation to Hanoi on Sunday and Monday.
China attaches great importance to developing Sino-Vietnamese military relations and will strengthen cooperation with the Vietnamese military to push for greater development, Fan added.
As for issues regarding the South China Sea, Fan emphasized that islands in the region have been China's territory since ancient times. The situation in the region has now improved, a development that did not come easily.
China and Vietnam should strengthen strategic communication, settle differences appropriately, and maintain the two countries' overall relationship as well as peace and security in the region, Fan said.
Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, said he wishes to deepen exchanges and cooperation in various fields.
Nguyen Xuan Phuc, prime minister of Vietnam, said Vietnam will work together with China to effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, as well as reach an agreement on the code of conduct for the region as soon as possible.
Fan's visit came two weeks after Japan and Vietnam agreed to bolster their security ties through Japanese-funded projects, including 38 billion yen (2 million) in aid to improve Vietnam's capability in coast guard vessels and patrols.
The two countries also held a joint coast guard exercise against illegal fishing on Friday in the waters off Danang in central Vietnam.
Major General Ma Gang, a professor at the People's Liberation Army National Defense University, said it is a welcome development to see Sino-Vietnamese relations improve in the past two years, but Vietnam's ambition of balancing big powers has not changed.
"China appreciates good relations with Vietnam, but also views Vietnam's recent intimacy with the US and Japan with calm and mild caution," he said. "Positive Sino-Vietnamese relations should build on mutual respect for each other's national interests."