China, Vietnam agree to enhance strategic partnership

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. They agreed to enhance a strategic partnership between the two countries. They also discussed international and regional issues of mutual concern, such as territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Chinh met Xi in Beijing on Wednesday after attending an international economic forum in Dalian, northeastern China.

In the meeting, Xi said, "China has always viewed Vietnam as a priority in its regional diplomacy, and firmly supports Vietnam in pursuing a socialist path that fits its national realities."

Chinh said, "Developing long-term, strong and stable relations with China, building mutual trust, and expanding cooperation in all fields are the consistent goals of Vietnam's independent foreign policy."

On the South China Sea, Xi said both countries should properly handle maritime issues and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability.

Chinh stressed the importance of respecting each other's legitimate interests in accordance with international law. He also said maritime disputes should not affect the friendly bilateral relations.

China aims to strengthen ties with Vietnam as it has been increasingly at odds with the Philippines and the US over rising tensions in the South China Sea.

Still, observers say Vietnam is trying to maintain its "multi-polar" diplomacy, and strike a balance in relations between regional powers, including the US, China and Russia.