China Claims South China Sea Pact with Vietnam

According to China’s Foreign Ministry, China and Vietnam have agreed to peacefully resolve recent tensions over territorial claims in the South China Sea, though Vietnamese officials have yet to comment. From The Wall Street Journal:

The two countries would “peacefully resolve maritime disputes through negotiations and friendly consultations,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement after state councilor Dai Bingguo met Vietnamese Vice Foreign Minister Ho Xuan Son in Beijing on Saturday.

The statement didn’t go into any detail on how the countries would resolve the dispute, which has simmered for years and flared again after Vietnam recently accused China of impeding a state-owned oil exploration vessel ….

China says disputes with its neighbors need to be handled bilaterally, and responded indignantly last year to statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the U.S. was prepared to help facilitate multiparty talks to resolve the conflict. U.S. diplomats said this month the U.S. wouldn’t take sides in the dispute, but would protect its significant interests in the region.

A senior Chinese diplomat, in unusually stark language, told foreign journalists last week the U.S. needed to stay out of its regional disputes.

“I believe some countries now are playing with fire,” said Cui Tiankai, vice minister of foreign affairs. “And I hope the U.S. won’t be burned by this fire.”

Read more on the South China Sea dispute via CDT.