China and Vietnam sign agreements confirming boundary demarcation and initiating land border management cooperation
(24 November 2009)On 18 November, in a ceremony held in Beijing, Ho Xuan Son, Vietnamese deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, and Wu Dawei, his Chinese counterpart, signed three land boundary agreements concluding some 35 years of negotiations on land boundary delimitation and demarcation. The accords – including a Protocol on Border Demarcation and Marker Planting, the Agreement on Border Management and the Agreement on Border Gates and Border Gate Management – are intended to strengthen coordination between the two countries in border management affairs and hopefully to further enhance security and stability in the area.
China and Vietnam generated momentum towards greater border cooperation in 1999 when the two states signed a land boundary delimitation agreement. Following signature of the delimitation treaty, a joint committee for boundary demarcation was set up in 2001 and by the end of 2008 demarcation of the approximately 1,300 km long boundary was complete, with some 2,000 land markers having been erected. In order to strengthen bilateral ties and encourage development in areas along the border, the two delegations also agreed during this last meeting to begin negotiations on joint development of the tourist area around the Ban Gioc Waterfall, as well as the free navigation at the estuary of the Bac Luan river. Both of these agreements are expected to be signed within 2010.
Focus on the land boundary did not prevent China’s and Vietnam’s vice ministers from pledging their commitment to solve their outstanding maritime issues. However, with overlapping maritime claims and disputed islands in the South China Sea, these negotiations will be complex.
Sources: ‘Agreements conclude Vietnam-China border talks’ Thai News Service, 20 November 2009; ‘China, Vietnam sign land boundary demarcation agreements’ BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, 18 November 2009.