More pragmatic China-Vietnam cooperation to be seen
Updated: 2015-07-18 14:17
BEIJING - After disputes in the South China Sea plunged China-Vietnam relations to a low point in 2014, both countries have realized the main components of such hard-won bilateral ties are friendship and cooperation.
That's why the timing of Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli's visit to Vietnam, only one week after the Vietnamese leader's historic visit to the United States, should not be interpreted as a tug-of-war between Beijing and Washington in competing for regional influence.
Rather, it reflected a common desire on both sides to boost mutual trust and usher in more pragmatic cooperation.
As said by Zhang when meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday, China looks forward to more frequent high-level interactions with Vietnam to exchange views effectively and advance bilateral relations on a right track.
Zhang's trip marked the latest in a series of high-level engagement between China and Vietnam in recent years. In April, Chinese President Xi Jinping received visiting Communist Party of Vietnam leader Nguyen Phu Trong, in which the two leaders pledged to cement traditional friendship and boost bilateral ties.
The importance of a stable and closer China-Vietnam relationship lies not just in geopolitical closeness, in which the two share a border stretching more than 1,000 kilometers.
China is the largest trade partner of Vietnam, which in turn is China's second largest trade partner among Southeast Asian countries. Vietnam also exports a large volume of fruit and agricultural products to China.
Few other pairs of countries have as many similarities like as China and Vietnam. Having a similar political system, China and Vietnam are both communist Party-led socialist countries. Their fates are closely connected in advancing the cause of socialism.
Now, as both sides celebrate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, China and Vietnam are faced with new opportunities that are hard to ignore.
Vietnam is an essential part of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which covers large areas in the South China Sea and is aimed at promoting common prosperity and win-win development in Asia.
Chinese companies have a vast share of investment in Vietnam, whose low cost and cheap labor have quickly transformed it into a manufacturing powerhouse in southeast Asia. Statistics show that China ranks ninth on foreign direct investment in Vietnam as of June.
Last September, Vietnam's longest expressway opened, cutting Hanoi to China-bordering Lao Cai travel time by half. The expressway is part of the China's Kunming-Vietnam's Hai Phong Transport Corridor. Another route linking Vietnam's Bac Giang Province with China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region will start construction this year.
Perhaps doubts will linger on, but both history and current mutual efforts have shown that the two countries have the aspiration and wit to shelve differences while seeking common ground.