2017 Vietnam-China border exchange to be co-chaired by top military leaders

On the veranda of the event, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, member of the Party Central Committee, permanent member of the Central Military Commission and Deputy Defense Minister gave an interview to the press, focusing on the agenda for the 2017 Exchange and major outcomes of the bilateral relations.

Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh (R) welcoming Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan in Lao Cai province at the 2nd Vietnam-China Border Defense Friendship Exchange. Photo: vtc.vn

Reporter: Mr. Deputy Defense Minister, the Vietnam People’s Army and the China People’s Liberation Army are preparing for the 4th Vietnam-China Border Defense Friendship Exchange, could you please reveal some main contents of the 2017 event?

Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh: First of all, I would like to talk about relations between Vietnam and China in 2017. Since the beginning of the year, the Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic partnership has seen positive developments. Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong led a high-ranking Vietnamese Party and State delegation to pay an official visit to China in the beginning of this year. During the visit, the two defense ministries of Vietnam and China signed a joint vision statement on defense cooperation toward 2025. Recently, Vietnamese State President Tran Dai Quang also paid an official visit to China. Meanwhile, Chinese Party General Secretary and State President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Vietnam and attend the APEC Summit hosted by Vietnam later this year. The high-ranking visits and significant documents inked during the visits in a short time have shown that the overview of the Vietnam-China relationship is fine. In this context, defense cooperation between Vietnam and China has always been underscored by leaders of the two countries as a pillar in the bilateral relations, promoting mutual trust, understanding and security for the two nations to further strengthen friendship, cooperation on politics, economics, culture and border affairs, which can lay a foundation for the two countries to deal with unsolved issues, including the East Sea (South China Sea) issue.

Relations between the two countries at local and sectoral levels also see good and practical results. Relations between localities and units along the Vietnam-China shared borderline are very good with an increased number of friendly exchanges and joint activities conducted by Vietnamese and Chinese border localities and units in 2016 and first months of 2017. The Vietnam-China land border can be seen as a border of peace, friendship, cooperation and development.

This year only, I have had three meetings with Chinese leaders, including Senior Lieutenant General Fan Changlong, Deputy Chairman of the Central Military Commission of China. At the meeting, Senior Lieutenant General Fan Changlong informed me that he would visit Vietnam, and this will have marked 6 years since a Deputy Chairman of the Central Military Commission of China paid an official visit to Vietnam. After the official visit to Vietnam, the Chinese Deputy Chairman of the Central Military Commission and Vietnamese Deputy Secretary of Central Military Commission Ngo Xuan Lich will co-chair the 2017 Vietnam-China Border Defense Friendship Exchange, showing a big step forward in the event as the first exchange was co-hosted over by a deputy defense and deputy chief of general staff, and the second and third exchanges were presided by defense ministers of the two countries.

Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh (L) and Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan planting a memorial tree at Company 13, Battalion 4, Regiment 3 of Pingxiang Border Guard, Guangxi province. Photo: qdnd.vn

Reporter: What results have been brought about for border relations between the two countries after three border exchanges?

Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh: First, the border exchanges have helped all leaders, Central agencies, militaries, local authorities and people of the two countries improve their perception on friendship and cooperation. Perceptions on Vietnam-China friendship and unity are very important to both China and Vietnam as well as to governments and agencies at both the Central level and local level, and to both militaries and people, from the two countries. I believe that all participants think that China and Vietnam should promote friendship and solidarity, contributing to boosting socio-economic development in each country. Via border exchanges, not only leaders but also people of Vietnam and China are able to develop the perception that the two countries could not develop if they fail to preserve friendship and unity.

Second, the annual border exchange mechanism can also help strengthen relations between border localities of the two countries. As mentioned above, border exchanges make armed forces and people along the shared border become more aware of the importance of friendship and unity. When people think right, they then act right. Thus the two sides of the Vietnam-China border can share both difficulties and advantages with each other and seek suitable channels or good approaches to effectively settle border-related issues, on the basis of mutual respect for national independence, national sovereignty and each other’s interests and in accordance with the good relationship between the two nations.

Third, the border defense friendship exchange can also be seen as a symbol of the bilateral relations. Carefully studying the concern of border people of the two countries during the first event, we realized that the border exchange drew much attention and support from not only border people but people from all walks of life in the two countries. I think it is a great outcome of the annual border exchange. Facts show that, when the two peoples of the two countries have close relations and want to continuously promote unity and friendship, the governments and leaders of the two countries cannot help following their people’s will and aspiration. We see a strong will of friendship and unity among the Chinese and Vietnamese, especially during border defense friendship exchanges.

By the way, I would like to remind you of the image during the Third Vietnam-China Border Defense Friendship Exchange that has now become a symbol of the Vietnam-China relationship. As everyone could remember, at the third event, General Phung Quang Thanh and Senior Lieutenant General Chang Wanquan were holding two babies. The image now hangs up in all border force stations of both Vietnam and China, and is seen as a symbol of Vietnam-China friendship and unity. The picture also tells troops and people that the two Defense Ministers came to the shared borderline to build a border of peace and friendship, denying any possibilities of clash.

From the above-mentioned meanings, I should say that the 4th Vietnam-China Border Defense Friendship Exchange is the most important event of defense foreign affairs of our military in 2017.

Reporter: Within the framework of the Vietnam-China border defense friendship exchange mechanism, the two sides have built projects for border people of the two countries. How do people use the projects, Deputy Defense Minister?

Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh: The projects were built to meet the need of local Vietnamese or Chinese people. In fact, both Chinese and Vietnamese border villages need a building to hold joint meetings, exchanges and other activities. This was Vietnam’s initiative and we built such a project in the Vietnamese land for Vietnamese border people to use as a communal house or a place to receive their Chinese friends from the other side of the borderline. The Chinese side agreed and supported the idea by providing the Vietnamese side with some materials to build the friendship house. So such a project becomes more significant, promoting friendship and unity of Vietnamese and Chinese people living on the two sides of the shared border. We will try to invest in more projects for border localities of the two countries. The construction does not depend on a border defense friendship exchange but localities of the two sides can actively support each other in realizing projects.

Reporter: Vietnam shares its land border with three countries, so do you think such a border exchange should be held with the two others?

Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh: I must say that Vietnam’s border exchanges with China, Laos and Cambodia are highlights in our foreign relations. We also have border exchanges with Laos and Cambodia, and they have brought fruitful results over the past years. However, we hold border exchanges of different levels and scales with different countries, depending on various conditions and relations between the two countries. For example, Vietnam and Laos have developed twinning activities between villages and border stations of the two sides while Vietnam and Cambodia have focused on provincial-level exchange and cooperation. The Central Military Commission and Defense Ministry direct and lead all the defense exchange activities with the three countries although exchanges between Vietnam and China, Laos and Cambodia are different in scale, content and form.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Defense Minister.

Interviewed by Nguyen Van Truong

Translated by Thu Nguyen

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