Beijing says it peacefully resolved a South China Sea dispute with Vietnam

Key Points
  • Beijing said it will work with Hanoi to manage and control disputes in the South China Sea
  • The territorial dispute has weighed on bilateral relations in recent years

and have reached an agreement on managing their dispute in the through friendly talks, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Friday, following an ugly spat over the summer between the two communist neighbors.

over the strategic waterway, through which more than $3 trillion in cargo passes every year, with Vietnam having emerged as the most vocal opponent of China's claims to the majority of the regional sea.

An island outpost, one of several, being built by China in the South China Sea.

A scheduled meeting between their foreign ministers in August was cancelled on the sidelines of a regional gathering in Manila amid an argument about and island-building.

Hanoi and Beijing, however, have sought to get relations back on track, with a top Chinese leader telling his Vietnamese hosts in September that their two communist parties have a "shared destiny". Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met senior Vietnamese officials in Hanoi this week.

Speaking before Chinese President goes to Vietnam next week for a state visit and to attend a summit of Asia Pacific leaders, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong said national leaders of the two countries have had many "deep, frank" discussions on maritime issues.

"They reached an important consensus," Chen told a news briefing. "Both sides will uphold the principle of friendly consultations and dialogue to jointly manage and , and protect the bigger picture of developing Sino-Vietnam relations and stability in the South China Sea."

Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said in a statement late on Thursday that he had proposed in a meeting with Wang that the two countries resolve disputes based on common sense and international law. The latter point is a contentious one in the South China Sea, where Vietnam has long said .

China and Southeast Asian countries are willing and able to handle the South China Sea issue themselves, Chen said, in an oblique reference to the , whose comments on the dispute and naval patrols in the waterway .

"We also hope countries outside the region can objectively view positive change in the South China Sea situation, and do more for peace and stability in the region," Chen said.

China has appeared uneasy at Vietnamese efforts to rally Southeast Asian countries over the busy swathe of sea as well as at its neighbor's growing defense ties with the United States, and .

In July, under pressure from Beijing, also claimed by China. Brunei, , the and also claim parts of the South China Sea, and dispute China's contention of sovereignty over most of the waters.

China has undertaken more construction and reclamation in the South China Sea, , and is likely to more powerfully reassert its claims over the waterway soon, regional diplomats and military officers say.

Xi is also visiting Laos during his tour, another communist-run county once firmly in Vietnam's orbit, but which is now increasingly close to Beijing and the site of several major Chinese infrastructure projects.