China and Vietnam ratify sea border agreement

Jun 28, 2004 02:00 AM

China has joined Vietnam in ratifying an agreement demarcating the neighbours’ maritime border in the Gulf of Tonkin, part of the South China Sea.
Legislators approved the deal. The two sides had signed an accord in December 2000 setting out the border, but ratification was delayed notably due to criticism within Vietnam over concessions made by Hanoi to Beijing.

A supplementary protocol to the agreement was signed in Beijing last April setting up a common fishing zone and a buffer zone for small-sized fishing boats.
Hanoi ratified the agreement on June 15. Vietnam’s foreign ministry had said the agreement was based on international law, describing the deal as an "equitable" solution, conducive to the maintenance of peace in the Tonkin Gulf and promoting bilateral ties.

Ideological soul mates but historical rivals, China invaded Vietnam in February 1979, following Hanoi’s intervention in Cambodia to oust Beijing’s Khmer Rouge allies. They came to blows again in 1988 in the disputed Spratly Islands, a potentially oil-rich archipelago in the South China Sea claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as China and Taiwan.
However, they normalised relations in 1991 and ties have improved since then, despite another brief naval clash near the Spratlys in 1992.

In December 1999, the Sino-Vietnamese land border treaty was signed after six years of talks.
Hanoi has always denied making any territorial concessions to China and has attributed criticism to "reactionary forces and political opportunists," but the subject has remained taboo in public discourse in the country.

Source: The News International, Pakistan
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