On Tuesday, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu announced that China is ready to collaborate with Vietnam to enhance high-level communication and cooperation between their armed forces. The statement came during a meeting in Beijing between Li and his Vietnamese counterpart, Phan Van Giang.

Li noted that the current international situation is chaotic and complex, with the Asia-Pacific region’s security facing numerous challenges, according to a statement from the Chinese Defense Ministry. He emphasized the importance of both nations working together for regional peace and stability.

“China and Vietnam should continue to work hand in hand and closely unite in the new journey of socialism, safeguard the common strategic interests of the two countries, and make positive contributions to regional peace and stability,” Li said during his talks with Phan Van Giang.

China and Vietnam Relations

The tension between the two nations stems from a variety of factors. Historical disputes are a significant factor, with Vietnam accusing China of conquering and annexing its territory during the Tang and Yuan dynasties. Conversely, China claims ownership over the South China Sea and claims that the Paracel and Spratly Islands belong to them, a stance that Vietnam refuses to accept.

In recent years, China has become increasingly assertive in claiming its sovereignty over parts of the South China Sea. This has caused tensions between the two countries to intensify dramatically, with Vietnam accusing China of violating its sovereignty and interfering in its economic activities. China has been accused of bullying Vietnam by placing oil rigs in disputed waters, harassing Vietnamese fishermen, and even sinking fishing vessels.

Vietnam has responded by increasing its military spending, strengthening its relations with other regional powers such as India, and seeking closer ties with the United States. The country has also called for a peaceful resolution to the disputes in the South China Sea, with both sides adhering to international law for the sake of regional stability.

Despite these tensions, China remains Vietnam’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching over $100 billion in 2020. However, this economic cooperation has yet to translate into increased political or security cooperation, with Vietnam remaining cautious of China’s growing power and influence in the region.