The People"s Liberation Army will work with its Vietnamese counterpart in strengthening exchanges, facilitating cooperation and enhancing coordination and mutual trust, a senior Chinese military official said on Monday.
State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe made the remark during an official visit to Vietnam. It was the first visit by a Chinese defense minister to the country in three years.
During his meeting with Vietnam"s National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan in Hanoi, Wei said both countries have upheld their traditional friendship with a solid foundation, and bilateral ties have seen steady development in recent years thanks to the joint efforts of leaders from both countries.
Both have produced fruitful results in exchanges and cooperation in various fields, he said, calling it a development worth cherishing.
Constructive relations will promote the positive development of the China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic partnership and contribute more to maintaining regional peace and stability, Wei added.
Ngan said Vietnam has consistently made its relationship with China one of its priorities in foreign affairs, and will not forget the massive support China gave for the Southeast Asian country"s causes of national liberation, construction and renovation.
She said the relationship is growing with positive momentum, and that Vietnam"s National Assembly will support the development of military-to-military relations.
Ngan said she hoped the two militaries will engage in close coordination, enhance collaboration under multilateral mechanisms, create a peaceful and stable environment for socioeconomic growth for both nations and become a key pillar for developing the comprehensive strategic partnership.
Next year will be the 70th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between China and Vietnam. Vietnam will also become the new chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Song Yinghui, an expert on Southeast Asia from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said China-Vietnam relations have improved by "leaps and bounds" over the past 40 years, particularly in recent years.
"Although China and Vietnam have some issues, their overall relationship is at a high point, thanks to strong political support and socioeconomic cooperation," Song said. "Vietnam"s economy is also developing very fast. This can open more room for cooperation."
After becoming the new chair of ASEAN next year, she said, Vietnam will likely maintain its current peaceful and stable relationship with China, which is in the interests of both countries as well as the region.
"China-ASEAN relations have seen noticeable improvement recently, which has a lot to do with the chair nation," she said. Singapore was the ASEAN chair last year, followed by Thailand this year. Both are on good terms with China.
"ASEAN countries often try to maintain a balanced foreign relationship with big nations, and focus on regional security and economic growth," she said. "We scholars, and the world, will be very interested to see what role Vietnam will play as ASEAN chair."
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