China, Vietnam launch joint inspection of South China Sea waters


A ceremony was held in south China’s Guangzhou for the launch of a China-Vietnam joint inspection of the waters outside the Beibu Gulf which is bordered by the two countries.

Chinese and Vietnamese experts will inspect the terrain and geological conditions outside the mouth of the Beibu Gulf.

The inspection will be carried out by China’s Fendou No 5 ocean research vessel.

The inspection area is potentially rich in resources, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Xinhua described the Beibu Gulf as a half-closed bay surrounded by Chinese and Vietnamese territory and a traditional fishing area for the two countries.

In 2000, both countries signed agreements on the demarcation of the Beibu Gulf and fishing cooperation.

Vietnam along with the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have questioned Beijing’s claims over almost all of the South China Sea.

An international tribunal constituted under the UN Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS) has admitted the Philippines’ petition for arbitration though China boycotted the tribunal proceedings.

The admission of the petition itself by the tribunal was regarded as a big setback for China.

Vietnam too contemplated joining the arbitration but refrained after repeated appeals from China.

China and Vietnam agreed to launch the inspection when President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Vietnam last month.

The inspection is an important beginning for maritime cooperation between the two countries, according to the joint statement issued after the visit.

China and Vietnam have been negotiating how to demarcate and develop the waters outside the mouth of the Beibu Gulf since 2012.

The launch of the joint inspection, which is the result of bilateral negotiation, shows that both countries are committed to solving maritime differences via cooperation in an appropriate way, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

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