China, Vietnam Meet to Resolve Disputed Water Standoff

By Dow Jones Business News, 

HANOI--A top Chinese diplomat met with Vietnam's foreign minister in Hanoi on Wednesday as the two sides seek to resolve a standoff over a territorial dispute.

The meeting between Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vietnamese Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh is the first high-level talks between the two countries following the deployment last month by a Chinese state-run energy company of an oil rig in waters claimed by Hanoi.

"China and Vietnam relations are experiencing a difficult period," Mr. Yang said. "On this trip, as appointed by our Central Committee, I am to discuss candidly and thoroughly with Mr. Pham Binh Minh the two countries' relations and current issues in the South China Sea."

Vietnam said the oil rig was deployed within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, while China said the energy company was carrying out normal activities in its waters and that it is entitled to conduct drilling operations within its own territory.

The two sides have been accusing each other of ramming each other's boats near the oil rig. Vietnam earlier this month released video footage showing a Chinese fishing vessel ramming and sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat.

The tension has sparked anti-Chinese protests throughout Vietnam, several of which turned violent last month, leaving at least three Chinese nationals dead and hundreds of foreign-owned factories damaged.

"We wish to discuss and resolve the complicated situation in the [South China Sea] and to help develop healthy and stable relations between the two countries for the benefit of both sides and the region," Mr. Minh said at the meeting.

Mr. Yang is scheduled to meet Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of Vietnam'sCommunist Party, later Wednesday.

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