China, Vietnam set up dispute hotline


China and Vietnam have agreed to set up a hotline to resolve disputes in the South China Sea, where clashes between fishermen have stoked tensions between the countries, state media reported Thursday.

The agreement was signed by agricultural authorities from Beijing and Hanoi on Wednesday, the state-run China Daily reported, amid a visit to China by Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang.

“With the establishment of the fishery hotline, each side should be informed of any detainment or treatment by the other side involving fishermen or fishing boats within 48 hours,” the paper quoted Wang Ying, a senor official at China’s ministry of agriculture, as saying.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, which is a key shipping route thought to contain rich energy deposits, based on a map published in the 1940s, but Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries also claim some areas.

  • Art Villasanta

    This “hotline” in no way alters Communist China’s illegal and absurd “Nine-Dash” claim to the South China Sea. The Chinese will still detain Vietnamese boats as and when it suits them–and apologize later. The hotline agreement will not prevent Communist China from chasing off Vietnamese boats.

    The Communist Chinese probably see this “hotline” as proof that Vietnam recognizes its sovereignty over the entire South China Sea. Communist China, therefore, only tolerates Vietnam’s presence and can rescind this tolerance as and when it suits them.

    As for Vietnam, the agreement seems to give them the right to detain Chinese boats as and when it suits them–and to apologize later. The Communist Chinese have much more to lose from the agreement since their far larger fishing fleets will become easier prey for the Vietnam Marine Police.

    The Vietnam Marine Police and the Philippine Coast Guard had earlier signed an agreement to set up a similar hotline. Both sides are now drafting detailed regulations on coordination.

    As Philippine fishing fleets do not fish near the Paracels or any other areas claimed by Vietnam and vice versa, there is little danger that detentions by either Vietnam or the Philippines will result in open conflict.

    The same cannot be said for the hotline between Vietnam and Communist China. Vietnam has lost two sea battles to Communist China in the South China Sea. I am certain the Vietnamese have not forgotten these humiliating defeats in which many Vietnamese sailors lost their lives.

    Revenge, as that old adage goes, is best served cold.