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China; Vietnam: Agreement Reached to Complete Land, Maritime Border Demarcation

(Nov. 3, 2008) On October 25, 2008, in a joint statement issued at the end of a visit to China by Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng, China and Vietnam pledged “to deepen the bilateral all-round strategic cooperation partnership” in a number of aspects. In particular, the two sides agreed to avoid what in the past has been a source of contentious dispute by completing demarcation of their land and maritime territorial borders. (China, Vietnam Cement All-Round Comprehensive Co-Op Partnership, CHINA VIEW, Oct. 25, 2008, available at

Nguyễn and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao agreed to ensure that the land border demarcation is finished by the end of the year, as scheduled, and “to sign a protocol on land border demarcation and land marker plantation and an agreement on new regulations on land border management.” They also agreed to continue “close coordination and strict implementation” of the Tonkin Gulf demarcation and fishery cooperation treaties, conduct joint inspections of aquatic product sources in the shared fishing area, and carry out joint naval patrols in the Gulf. (Vietnam, China Reach Awareness to Enrich Partnership, VIETNAM BANK, Oct. 27, 2008, available at The two sides plan to continue to hasten negotiations for the delineation of waters off the Gulf and discuss ways to cooperate in mutual development of the area, taking note of the upcoming launch of a joint survey of the Gulf waters. In addition, the ministers will enhance cooperative efforts in oceanographic research, environmental protection, hydro-meteorological forecasting, exploration and exploitation of oil and gas, search and rescue work at sea, mutual visits by navy ships, and the creation between their armed forces of a mechanism for direct exchange of information. (Id.) The joint statement did not settle the thorny dispute over the Spratly Islands, the strategic South China Sea cluster of outcrops claimed by a number of jurisdictions in the region. (Analysts Hail China, Vietnam Deal, BBC NEWS, Oct. 27, 2008, available at; CHINA VIEW, supra.)

In all during Nguyen's visit, the countries inked eight agreements and accords, which covered, among other matters, the creation of a telephone hotline between high-ranking Vietnamese and Chinese leaders; cross-border medical quarantine; the provision of credit to Vietnam by China; development of the Chinese trade and economic zone in Hai Phong; and strategic cooperation between the two countries' major state-owned petroleum enterprises, PetroVietnam and China National Offshore Oil Corporation. (VIETNAM BANK, supra.)