BEIJING – Chinese leader Xi Jinping told Vietnam’s second-highest ranking official on Friday that both countries must not forget the “original intention” of their traditional friendship.
China and the United States have been jostling for influence among Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam, which in September elevated its ties with Washington to a comprehensive strategic partnership, putting its one-time enemy on par with Beijing and Moscow.
China has traditionally strong ties with Vietnam since diplomatic relations were established in 1950, despite a brief war in 1979. Beijing had backed Hanoi’s fight against former colonial ruler France, and later, against Saigon and the United States during the Vietnam War.
“Faced with the ever-changing international situation and arduous domestic development tasks, the two countries must not forget the original intention of their traditional friendship,” Xi told visiting Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong.
Thuong, Vietnam’s No.2 after its Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, held talks with Xi after attending Beijing’s Belt and Road Forum.
“The two sides should adhere to the principle of joint consultation,” Xi told Thuong, adding that China and Vietnam should capitalise on their geographical proximity and complementing industries.
In early October, Reuters reported that Vietnamese and Chinese officials were preparing for a possible trip by Xi to Hanoi either at the end of October or in early November, with work under way on a joint statement to be issued during the visit.
Three Hanoi-based diplomats subsequently said the visit was likely to be postponed to December, with one saying talks on what specifically might be announced at the meeting had not sufficiently progressed.
There was no mention of any Xi visit in the Chinese state media summary of his meeting with Thuong.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said she had no detailed information, when asked at a regular news conference if Vietnam had invited Xi to visit.
On Wednesday, Vietnamese state media reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin had accepted an invitation from Thuong to visit Vietnam soon, when the two men met on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum.
In September, U.S. President Joe Biden visited Hanoi.