As Vietnam takes more assertive approach to South China Sea, Beijing tries to manage tensions

As Vietnam takes more assertive approach to South China Sea, Beijing tries to manage tensions

  • Chinese diplomat meets with Vietnamese counterpart to discuss the waterway, while Beijing-backed investment institution lends US$100 million to bank in Vietnam
  • Moves come just days after US secretary of state rejects most of China’s claims to South China Sea

Beijing is carefully managing its relationship with Vietnam after the United States took a harder line on the South China Sea dispute and rejected most of its claims in the strategic waterway as “unlawful” this week.

Chinese vice-minister of foreign affairs Luo Zhaohui discussed South China Sea issues with his Vietnamese counterpart Le Hoai Trung on Thursday, according to the Foreign Ministry, which did not provide further details.

The Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said on Friday that it would lend US$100 million to the Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank to help the bank expand lending to private businesses disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The South China Sea, through which one-third of global shipping passes, has been subject to decades of overlapping territorial disputes involving China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. The sea is also believed to contain major reserves of natural gas and oil.