BEIJING: 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 on 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 senior 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.
The dispute between China and Vietnam flares up periodically, most recently last month when Vietnam accused China of firing on a fishing boat in its waters.
The agreement came as Vietnam’s leader met President Xi Jinping in Beijing. The two nations signed agreements in areas including defense, economy and public diplomacy, state-media said.
Xi reiterated China’s position that territorial issues be resolved through bilateral talks, state-media reported.
China has blocked attempts by neighboring countries to use the Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum to discuss the ownership of the South China Sea.